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Volume 24 No. 155
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ESPN Sees 9% Overnight Rating Uptick For Week 9 "Monday Night Football"

ESPN earned a 10.4 overnight rating for the Bears-Packers "MNF" telecast, up 9% from a 9.5 rating for Eagles-Saints in Week 9 last year. In Chicago, the game earned a 20.3 local rating on ESPN and a 13.7 rating on WCIU-Ind. In Milwaukee, the game earned a 13.9 local rating on ESPN and a 36.4 rating on WISN-ABC. The top five markets were rounded out by New Orleans, Las Vegas and San Diego (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

BEING FLEXIBLE: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote under the header, "NFL Flex Schedule A Godsend For NBC." Next week’s Cowboys-Saints matchup "features two first-place teams." Meanwhile, the league has "optimized the first week of the flex schedule to NBC’s advantage, shifting the Nov. 17 Chiefs-Broncos game from CBS’ late national broadcast to Sunday prime." The 7-1 Broncos and QB Peyton Manning "are huge draws, and the league has ensured that the team gets as much national exposure as is humanly possible." Fans also should "look for the NFL to invoke its flex powers in subsequent weeks, as it will want to showcase games" like Seahawks-49ers and Packers-Cowboys in "favor of the previously-scheduled" Falcons-Packers and Bengals-Steelers games on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. The 2-6 Falcons are "all but out of contention." Meanwhile, the "once powerful Steelers franchise is mired in last place" in the AFC North. CBS and Fox have the "right to protect five games each, but league politics often plays a part in getting the networks to relax their grip on their national matchups in favor of giving the week’s best pairing a prime time showcase." CBS originally had protected Chiefs-Broncos, but it "agreed to make a one-time accommodation at the NFL’s request" (, 11/4). In N.Y., Andrea Morabito noted AMC's "The Walking Dead" outdrew NBC's Colts-Texans "SNF" matchup among adults 18-49, "the demographic preferred by advertisers." "The Walking Dead" averaged 8.7 million viewers among adults 18-49 in the 9:00pm ET hour-long window, topping the 8.1 million viewers who watched Colts-Texans (N.Y. POST, 11/5).

PATRIOT GAMES: CBS' telecast of Steelers-Patriots in the national window on Sunday averaged a 40.3 rating in the Boston market, the highest rating of the '13 NFL season to date. The only sporting event to receive a higher local rating was Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 6. Sunday's rating marks a 15% increase from the season's previous high, a 35.1 rating for Saints-Patriots in Week 6. It also marks the first time this season that a Patriots game has drawn a rating higher than 40 in the Boston market (Patriots).

ON THE MIKE: ESPN "MNF" play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said of color analyst Jon Gruden, "I thought I knew something about football before I met Jon. Now I realize I had no clue. The five-year masters program that he's put me through is a degree that I'm second-proudest to have earned. ... I don't see what Jon sees, but he has taught me what's important -- line play, safeties -- to look for patterns in games as you watch them." Meanwhile, Tirico said of former "MNF" analyst Ron Jaworski being reassigned, "Still a bummer. No one has ever been in a room with Jaws and not had a good time" (, 11/2).

BLACK HOLE SUN: In L.A., Joe Flint wrote there is "a lot of confusion out there about what exactly the blackout rule is, how it works and what its removal would mean for both fans and the media." What the FCC's rule "does is prohibit a cable or satellite operator from circumventing those agreements between sports leagues and TV stations by importing a distant signal of a game that should be blacked out." This means that "getting rid of the blackout rule wouldn't mean the local station could suddenly show a game that wasn't sold out." It means a pay-TV distributor "could show it no matter how mad the league or local rights holder gets" (, 11/4).