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Volume 24 No. 158
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NFL Week 14 Overnights: Fox Leads With 17.0 For Nat'l Window Featuring Saints-Giants

Fox led all NFL game telecasts yesterday with a 17.0 overnight Nielsen rating for its national window, which featured Saints-Giants in 91% of markets. Despite a blowout win by the Giants, that figure is up 33% from a 12.8 overnight for CBS’ Week 14 national window last year, which featured Patriots-Bears. Meanwhile, NBC earned a 13.6 overnight for the Lions-Packers “SNF” telecast last night, down 16% from the comparable Eagles-Cowboys in Week 14 last year. Despite the drop, “SNF” was the top-rated program last night and led NBC to a win in primetime. “SNF” also has now topped the 13.5 overnight mark 10 times this season, which is a record for the net through 14 weeks. Lions-Packers earned a 52.7 local rating in Milwaukee and a 27.6 rating in Detroit. Figures for CBS’ singleheader and Fox’ regional window were not available at presstime (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS' coverage of Ravens-Redskins yesterday was "lousy." Play-by-play announcer Marv Albert at the start of OT "said one of the most obvious and, yes, dumbest things I have heard an announcer say all year: 'The word on Robert Griffin III is that he appeared to suffer a right knee injury.'" Zurawik: "We would have to have been in a coma for the last 10 minutes of real time at the end of the game not to know as much or more than you told us. I didn’t hear anything from CBS Sports about the hip pointer Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in his postgame interview that [RB] Ray Rice suffered." But on a "cold, gray and wet day, the images were outstanding." As fog started to "shroud the field late in the game, it felt as if the cameras were moving closer and closer to the action." Viewers were given "the kind of tight, field levels shots that made you feel as if you could almost reach out and touch the white plumes of breath emanating from the mouths of the exhausted players on the field" (, 12/9).

MISSING MIC: In Tampa, Tom Jones notes during Fox' Eagles-Buccaneers coverage yesterday, which "included the 10th anniversary reunion of the Bucs' Super Bowl team, former players Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp swung by the broadcast booth to see Fox analyst and former teammate John Lynch." Play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton said that there were "no microphones for the ex-players, so Lynch would have to speak for them." Jones: "You would think Fox would have one microphone around in case anyone ever stopped by the booth. And in this case, you're better off not even acknowledging the players are there if you're not going to let the audience hear directly from them." Jones also writes ESPN and NFL Network made "classy moves" by allowing analysts Keyshawn Johnson and Warren Sapp, respectively, to "skip their pregame duties" to participate in the reunion (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/10).

SPREADING THE LOVE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes CBS today will announce that after its usual Super Bowl trophy presentation, the net "will direct viewers to its CBS Sports Network cable channel for a show scheduled to last at least an hour." For CBSSN, "only in roughly 50 million of the USA's 116 million households, to draw a small fraction of a Super Bowl audience for a cable post-game show would be a huge hit for a channel that still isn't measured for national TV ratings." CBSSN will have "50 hours from New Orleans; the channel didn't air anything from on-site when CBS carried the Super Bowl three years ago." CBS Sports Exec VP and CBSSN President David Berson said, "This has received a lot of support internally. CBSSN is an increasing priority for us" (USA TODAY, 12/10).

CHOOSING SIDES: In Denver, Dusty Saunders asks the question, "Who is the better NFL cable analyst -- ESPN's Jon Gruden or the NFL Network's Mike Mayock?" Saunders: "My vote goes to the latter." Gruden, who "overanalyzes every play, has an annoying habit of being too praiseworthy." Gruden is "too positive" (DENVER POST, 12/10).

MUST SEE THURSDAYS: NFL Network averaged 6.8 million viewers for the Broncos-Raiders "Thursday Night Football" game last week, making it the most-watched cable TV program that night. The game viewership was up 3% from last year's Week 14 Browns-Steelers matchup (NFL).