SBD/January 14, 2013/Media

NFL Sees Overnight Ratings Decline For Three Of Four Divisional Playoff Windows

CBS topped the four NFL Divisional Playoff games over the weekend with a 23.8 overnight Nielsen rating for the Patriots’ 41-28 win over the Texans yesterday. That figure is down 13% from a 27.4 overnight for Fox’ Giants-Packers in the Sunday late window last year, which remains the best overnight for a Divisional game on any net since Fox earned a 28.6 rating for Panthers-Cowboys in ’97. Boston led all markets with a 50.5 local rating, followed by Providence with a 42.4 rating. Houston ranked third with a 39.3 local rating. Meanwhile, Fox earned a 21.3 overnight for the Falcons’ last-second win over the Seahawks in the early window yesterday, up 3% from CBS’ Ravens-Texans last year. Fox earned an 18.7 overnight for 49ers-Packers Saturday night in primetime, marking the net’s best Saturday Divisional Playoff primetime game since it acquired NFL rights. However, the game was down 9% from Patriots-Broncos in the Saturday primetime slot last year, which remains the best Saturday primetime NFL Divisional game on any net in 11 years (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
NET
TIME (ET)
'13 GAME
RAT.
NET
'12 GAME
RAT.
% +/-
CBS
4:00pm
Ravens-Broncos
n/a
Fox
49ers-Saints
n/a
n/a
Fox
8:15pm
49ers-Packers
18.7
CBS
Patriots-Broncos
20.6
-9.2%
Fox
1:00pm
Falcons-Seahawks
21.3
CBS
Ravens-Texans
20.6
3.4%
CBS
4:35pm
Patriots-Texans
23.8
Fox
Giants-Packers
27.4
-13.1%
               

DOUBLE DUTY: CBS earned a 20.1 fast-national rating and 35.3 million viewers for the Ravens’ double OT win over the Broncos on Saturday, marking the most-viewed Saturday AFC Divisional Playoff telecast in at least 26 years (as far back as CBS records go). The game also marked the highest-rated Saturday AFC Divisional Playoff telecast in 19 years, dating back to a 22.0 for Bills-Raiders on NBC in '94. However, Ravens-Broncos is down from last year’s Saturday afternoon Divisional Playoff game -- 49ers-Saints on Fox -- which averaged a 20.5 rating and 35.6 million viewers. The game peaked at a 24.0 rating in the 8:00-8:30pm ET window. Denver led all markets with a 48.4 local rating, followed by Baltimore with a 47.2 rating (Karp).

MAKING IMPROVEMENTS: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote it was an "exhilarating and utterly exhausting experience" watching Ravens-Broncos. Zurawik: "I don't care how many things CBS did wrong. I would not have missed a second of the telecast." The "worship" of Broncos QB Peyton Manning on CBS' part "was excessive and maddening," but the net "did deliver a better telecast than it has during the regular season." One of the best things CBS did was "open the checkbook and give viewers a sideline reporter, Solomon Wilcots," as he did "some very good work." He had Ravens LB Ray Lewis right after the game, even though it "looked like Ray was talking directly to his God rather than Wilcots." CBS also delivered on "some of the great images in this battle." Just before the Ravens' winning field goal, the cameras caught Ravens coach John Harbaugh and RB Ray Rice "side by side on the sideline with Harbaugh's arm draped around Rice's shoulder as they held their breath." CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf "brought a lot more energy to the telecast than he usually does -- a lot more" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 1/12). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS' coverage was "above average." Dierdorf was able to "quickly explain the costly mistakes in the Broncos secondary" (DENVER POST, 1/14). But SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote Dierdorf "never let the broadcast breathe, injecting observation after observation after observation after observation after observation after observation." He has been around "long enough to know when less can be more and viewers suffered at the hands of his epic windbaggery." It is a "shame, too, because the direction and production provided by Bob Fishman and Mark Wolff was sensational" (SI.com, 1/13).

THE LIFE OF BRIAN: Fox analyst Brian Billick drew some criticism on Twitter for his commentary during the last few minutes of Falcons-Seahawks. Sports On Earth's Joe Posnanski wrote, "Please tell me Billick did not just say that they could kick a field goal and kick onside with 44 seconds left." The Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard wrote, "Other than score and situation and down, Billick nailed that." ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote, "'If I were Carroll, I might kick a FG, hope it's blocked, return the kick for a TD, go for 2, miss, then on-side.' Brian Billick, basically." Vikings P Chris Kluwe wrote, "I don't know why people are saying Seattle didn't have a timeout, the TV clearly showed them having two. Oh that's right, Billick is stupid." D'Backs P Brandon McCarthy wrote, "Brian Billick had a stroke somewhere in the last three minutes of that game. Only explanation" (TWITTER.com, 1/13). SI.com's Deitsch noted Billick will "no doubt want the fourth quarter back." Meanwhile, Billick is the brother-in-law of Falcons coach Mike Smith, and Deitsch wondered how Fox "viewed this relationship regarding disclosure to the viewer." Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said, "We don't see that there's an obligation, no more than if you think that every announcer must declare before every telecast they work whether they rooted for one of the participating teams as a kid, played on one in the past, calls or called their games locally, or is friendly with a player, coach or executive on one team or another" (SI.com, 1/13). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, "Conflict of interest? Maybe. Nothing Sunday suggested that Billick was favoring the Falcons, but that is something Fox needs to think about in the future" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/14).

LESS IS MORE: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "We're losing the good things CBS' Phil Simms has to say to his excessive, overly excited talking." During Patriots-Texans yesterday, Simms' "specialty -- short, applicable observations -- had to compete with trite explanations and burdensome descriptions of the obvious" (N.Y. POST, 1/14).

STAYING ON SET: CBS' Bill Cowher on Saturday said that he would not be leaving the net's "The NFL Today" pregame show to pursue an NFL coaching job. Cowher: "Contrary to reports, I have no plans on coaching. I plan on being with one team, and that is this team here at CBS" ("The NFL Today," CBS, 1/12). The comments came after Cowher last week said of a return to coaching, "It would be a challenge. But I think that's probably why I would get back into it, because of the challenge" (NFL.com, 1/12).

THINKING AHEAD: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Jets QB Tim Tebow's "likeability numbers are off the charts," and if his NFL career is over, Tebow could be "a very hot TV property, if he wants to go that direction." With the "huge amount of college football inventory ESPN produces, there would be plenty of opportunity to use Tebow." ESPN also could "use Tebow as a game analyst" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/12).

MARKET WATCH: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker noted the Falcons' regular-season games averaged a 25.2 local rating in the Atlanta market, up 13% percent from last season's 22.4. The season's "most watched games were Nov. 4 against the Cowboys (31.1 rating) and Nov. 29 against the Saints (30.7)." A Falcons game was the "highest-rated program -- sports or otherwise -- in the Atlanta market for 15 of the 16 weeks this season." The exception was "the week of the SEC Championship game" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/12). Meanwhile, in Dallas, Barry Horn noted the Cowboys averaged a 29.4 local rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth, down 10% a 32.8 rating last season (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/11).
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