SBD/August 12, 2014/Media

Johnny Ratings: Manziel's Debut Gives NFL Network Its Best Preseason Game Audience

NFL Network scored with Johnny Manziel’s first NFL action, as Saturday’s Browns-Lions preseason game set records as the highest-rated and most-watched preseason game in the network’s 11-year history. The game drew a 1.8 rating and 2.82 million viewers, beating out the '07 Saints-Steelers HOF game (1.3 rating, 2.07 million viewers) as NFL Net's best audience on record for a preseason game. Manziel played during the 2nd and 3rd quarters of Saturday’s game. ESPN will broadcast the Browns’ game next Monday against the Redskins. ESPN's best NFL preseason audience remains QB Brett Favre's first game with the Vikings in '09. That Texans-Vikings game drew 7.92 million viewers (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

PAT ON THE BACK
: Thursday's Patriots-Redskins preseason opener drew 519,300 viewers on Boston-based WBZ-CBS, up 5% from last year's opener against the Eagles. The game generated a 13.8 local rating, the most-watched preseason opener among males 25-54 since '02. Overall, Patriots-Redskins ranked among the top three most-watched opening preseason games since '02 (Patriots). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted WTMJ-NBC's telecast of Packers-Titans on Saturday was "the most-watched TV program in the Milwaukee market over the weekend." The game earned a 16.6 local rating, "which means over 152,000 households in Milwaukee tuned to some portion of telecast" (JSONLINE.com, 8/11).

DON'T POKE THE BEAR
: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE noted Friday's Eagles-Bears game on Chicago-based WFLD-Fox "included a long stretch during the first quarter in which viewers couldn't ... view the game because of a scrambled feed." But Bears Senior Dir of Corporate Communications Scott Hagel said the problem "was an encoding issue in our uplink truck," and "wasn't a WFLD problem" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/9).

BROWN OUT: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported James Brown has "decided not to return" as host of Showtime's "Inside The NFL." NFL execs have insisted on having a "big name" to replace him and have targeted NBC's Dan Patrick. But this is a Super Bowl year for NBC, and network execs "want to keep their talent exclusive to them." CBS had "already been pushing" Greg Gumbel for the job, and "once Patrick was out, the NFL threw its support behind Gumbel." But even with Gumbel and analyst Phil Simms "on board, there is still likely a huge hole in the 'Inside the NFL' cast" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/10).
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