SBD/January 22, 2013/Media

NFC/AFC Championship Avg. Lowest Since '09; Ravens-Pats Best TV Audience Since Super Bowl

Sunday's NFC and AFC Championship games averaged 44.9 million viewers, marking the lowest level for Championship Sunday since ’09, when the two games averaged 39.6 million viewers. The ’13 average is down from a two-game average of 53.7 million viewers last year. CBS finished with 47.7 million viewers for Ravens-Patriots in the late window Sunday, marking TV’s most-viewed program since last year’s Super Bowl, but down from 57.6 million viewers for the Giants’ OT win over the 49ers on Fox in last year’s late window, which was the most-watched conference championship game in 30 years. Fox’ 49ers-Falcons in the early window on Sunday finished with an average of 42.0 million viewers, marking the least-viewed conference championship telecast since ’09 and down from 48.7 million viewers for CBS’ Patriots-Ravens in the early window last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
YEAR
NET
GAME (WINDOW)
VIEWERS (000)
'13
Fox
49ers-Falcons (early)
42,000
'13
CBS
Ravens-Patriots (late)
47,700
'12
CBS
Patriots-Ravens (early)
48,676
'12
Fox
Giants-49ers (late)
57,635
'11
Fox
Packers-Bears (early)
51,884
'11
CBS
Steelers-Jets (late)
54,850
'10
CBS
Colts-Jets (early)
46,917
'10
Fox
Saints-Vikings (late)
57,933
'09
Fox
Cardinals-Eagles (early)
38,387
'09
CBS
Steelers-Ravens (late)
40,645


FLYING HIGH
: In Baltimore, David Zurawik reported the Ravens-Patriots AFC Championship generated a 51.8 local rating, which replaces the Ravens-Broncos AFC Divisional game as the "most watched program on Baltimore TV since last year's Super Bowl" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 1/21). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker reported more than 1 million "metro-Atlanta households watched" the 49ers-Falcons NFC Championship (45.7 local rating). The game delivered the "most homes ever to watch a Falcons game locally." Although the game was "not the highest rated on Atlanta TV in Falcons history -- three other games, including the 1999 Super Bowl, drew higher percentages of the market’s TV households -- Sunday’s audience was the largest in number of households because of the market’s population growth" (AJC.com, 1/21).

RAY'S WAY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Ravens LB Ray Lewis "won’t fade away, but he would be less the focal point if not for the NFL’s network partners (especially CBS) being hell-bent on promoting their version of Everybody Loves Ray." It has "ingrained Lewis into the nation’s conscience." As the national anthem was being performed Sunday, Lewis’ "eyes were directed toward heaven." His head "moved side to side as he conversed with God." CBS’ camera "lingered on Lewis." Above any "player on that field, including [Patriots QB] Tom Brady, Lewis was the visual priority." At that "very moment, other players were praying," but CBS was "only interested in Ray Lewis." When the game ended, Lewis was "on all fours kissing the turf." This "instantly was made common knowledge by CBS." Its cameras were "on Lewis and couldn’t get enough of what someone judged to be a moving moment." So, for those "who love ranting about Lewis and bringing up his past ... remember that CBS has provided him with what amounts to an exclusive window to spread the gospel according to Ray" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/22). SPORTS ON EARTH's Chuck Culpepper writes the "forecast calls for continued televised segments featuring Ray Lewis with an 80-percent chance of schmaltzy music." The "problem is, we went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz before the wild-card round, because that might have been his last game." Culpepper: "We went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the divisional round, because that might have been his last game. And we went through a bit of mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the conference-title round, because that might have been his last game as well" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/22).  

WILD BILL: With Patriots coach Bill Belichick turning down CBS' request for a postgame interview following the AFC Championship, ESPN’s J.A. Adande asked, “Would it hurt you to speak to the network that is paying billions of dollars to the league?" Adande: "Come on, show a little class even when you do lose.” Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said Belichick “doesn’t say anything anyway" during interviews and noted Belichick did speak to the media after the game, if not exclusively to CBS. ESPN’s Michael Smith said, "CBS’ broadcast was better for it that he didn’t do it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN2, 1/21). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon noted, “The networks pay Bill Belichick’s salary. ... The  networks -- and CBS is one of them -- pay each NFL team $100 million a year roughly. So we’re talking about a partnership here, and Belichick bailed on that.” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "He probably should have done the interview, but when he gives interviews it doesn’t matter. He has absolutely nothing to say. He has become sort of like a professional last angry man and he’s very cantankerous" (“PTI,” ESPN2, 1/21). CBS Sports’ Jim Rome said, “Nobody wants to do those interviews, but they do them anyway because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a part of the job. … Great coach, terrible loser” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 1/21). In Jacksonville, Chet Fussman writes Belichick was "rightfully criticized" and should "admit he made a mistake" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/22). 

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