CBS' coverage of the Patriots-Eagles game in the late window yesterday led all Sunday NFL broadcasts, drawing a 15.6 overnight Nielsen rating. The game was down 13.3% from Fox' comparative coverage of Eagles-Bears last year in the national window. CBS' regional coverage at 1:00pm ET earned a 12.2 rating, headlined by Bills-Jets. NBC's Steelers-Chiefs broadcast last night drew a 12.5 overnight rating, down 3.8% from the Chargers-Colts matchup in '10. Last night's game did win the night in primetime for NBC. Pittsburgh was the highest metered-market for the game, drawing a 50.7 rating, while K.C. was second with a 33.8 mark. Fox' single-header drew a 11.7 rating, up 8.3% from CBS' single-game coverage last year (THE DAILY).
THANKSGIVING FEAST: NFL Network's Thanksgiving Night 49ers-Ravens game averaged 10.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in the net's eight-year history and the most-watched cable program on Thanksgiving Day since Nielsen data became available in '94. The viewership for the game was up more than 50% from the net's comparable Bengals-Jets game last year. Through three games this season, "Thursday Night Football" is averaging 7.5 million viewers, up 28% over '10. Fox' broadcast of the Packers' win over the Lions earned a 15.8 overnight rating, up 7.5% from last year, when the net had the Saints-Cowboys late-window game. The same matchup drew a 12.1 rating in the early window in '09. CBS' Dolphins-Cowboys late afternoon game drew a 15.3 overnight rating, up 2% from a 15.0 for last year's early-window Patriots-Lions game on CBS and up 20% from a 12.6 for the comparable late-window Raiders-Cowboys game in '09. The 15.3 is the highest overnight rating for a Thanksgiving Day game on CBS since the net reacquired NFL rights in '98 (THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik noted NFL Network "delivered a telecast that was in a league with NBC's 'Sunday Night Football,' and that is as good as TV football gets." Zurawik: "Much praise to Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders, Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin for their endurance if nothing else." They "rarely faltered" during a live two-and-a-half-hour pregame show Thursday morning, and they were "still bringing their A-games to the screen at 8 p.m." If Sanders "gets an 'A' for enthusiasm, Eisen gets a grade of 'A-plus' for stamina." But Zurawik noted, "More importantly, he also sets a smart tone for the shows he hosts without being pretentious." Zurawik wrote, "The real surprise of the day and night for me was the game coverage featuring Brad Nessler doing play-by-play and Mike Mayock as analyst" (Baltimore SUN, 11/26).
HARSH WORDS FOR HARSH ACTION: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman Thursday were "harder on Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for getting ejected in the third quarter of the Packers-Lions game than the Fox studio analysts were after the telecast." "The NFL Today" studio analysts on CBS "were the hardest of all on Suh." After the incident was replayed for the first time, Aikman said, "Really there is no defense you can give Ndamukong Suh. It was not a very smart play, a dumb play, and really he could be facing a suspension." CBS' Boomer Esiason said, "I do believe an intervention is needed here. Because this young man once again (shows) a lack of respect for a fellow football player. And his actions are deplorable" (JSONLINE.com, 11/24). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Suh also "had to be ritually scolded Sunday." Fox' Mike Pereira said Suh "is beyond being a dirty player." Esiason said that Suh "needs at least a four-game suspension" (USA TODAY, 11/28).
STOP THE BLACKOUTS: In Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge reported U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is "backing a fan group's effort to end National Football League blackouts, asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a 1973 regulation that allows sports leagues to black out broadcasts of local games when they don't sell out." Coolidge noted even if Brown "prevails with the FCC, it's unlikely the NFL will change its policy." Brown "asked the NFL to reconsider the policy last year without success." The Browns-Bengals game yesterday was "blacked out, the fourth time in five home games this year" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/24).
STANDOUT IN THE BOOTH: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote what sets CBS' Phil Simms "apart from -- and above -- TV's other NFL analysts doesn't reveal itself when he's right or when he speaks sense, but when he's wrong and he speaks nonsense." To that end, Simms "succinctly and suddenly speaks the kind of Main Street football sense that on so many other telecasts is lost to pointless, endless word noise" (N.Y. POST, 11/25).
READY TO ORDER SOME APPS? In N.Y., Bob Tedeschi reviewed several new football-themed apps. The $90 Pro Football Picks is the "most ambitious." But Tedeschi noted for the price, "the app could be better." It "should offer results, analysis and betting lines that are updated more frequently." iOdds, on the other hand, is free and is "intended more for bettors than casual pool participants." As a result, some of the terminology "will puzzle recreational gamblers." If you can "understand such concepts, though, iOdds offers great value." Virtual Bet, which is also free, is "worth checking." It "isn't nearly as comprehensive as iOdds, but it scores points for simplicity" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/24).