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Volume 24 No. 113
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DON'T LOOK FOR SUPER BOWL XXIX ON THE ALL-TIME RATINGS LIST

     ABC Sports Dir of Media Relations Mark Mandel responded tothe 41.2 overnight rating for Super Bowl XXIX:  "It's still theSuper Bowl.  People will watch no matter what, no matter who'splaying."  USA TODAY's Mike Hiestand notes that the rating mightdecrease when the rest of the country is figured in.  Theovernight rating is based on the top 32 media markets (54% of theU.S.), which include San Francisco and San Diego.  Still, GreyAdvertising Senior VP Jon Mandel insists the rating won't matterto advertisers:  "The issue is simple.  Where else can you buy a40 rating?"  Mandel adds that even with a different set-up, suchas matching the NFL's top two teams, he's not sure "how much more(TV ad) money they could extract from the market" (USA TODAY,1/31).     THE BREAKDOWN:  The overnights, by segment -- all times arep.m. EST (USA TODAY, 1/31):
TIME PERIOD
RATING
TIME PERIOD
RATING
4-5 (pregame)
10.6
7:30-8
43.2
5-5:30 (pregame)
14.4
Halftime
39.5
5:30-5:50 (pregame)
20.1
8:30-9
41
5:50-6:21 (pregame)
32.6
9-9:30
40.6
6:30-7
42
9:30-10
40.1
7-7:30
42.8
Postgame
25.7
WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR: One media buyer said the ratings "heldup well enough" that NBC will probably ask for between $1.2-1.3Mper 30-second next year, and probably get between $1.1M and $1.2M(Harry Berkowitz, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/31). BLOWOUT FACTOR: There are several calls this morning for achange in the NFL's playoff system, which would allow for theleague's top two teams to meet in the Super Bowl. USA TODAY'sLarry Weisman writes, "Our national religious holiday, Super BowlSunday, is rotten at the core. ... And the best way to bring thefocus back to football is to find a way of getting the two bestteams on the field." But Mike Hiestand writes that a No. 1 vs.No. 2 Super Bowl could "render the AFC, ultimately, irrelevant,"as well as "hurt earlier playoff attractions" (USA TODAY, 1/31).In New York, Thomas George expects "serious discussion" onchanging the playoff system. "The NFL does not like criticismand ridicule from the outside. Now more of that than ever isbeginning to swell from the inside. It starts with [NFLCommissioner] Tagliabue" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). An editorial intoday's WASHINGTON POST calls for a Balanced Football Amendment,requiring the winning team to score three-fifths of the points(WASHINGTON POST, 1/31).