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Volume 24 No. 115
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NFL Sees Overnights Up For All Four Wild Card Windows; Fox Gets Record Figure

Each of the four NFL Wild Card windows saw increases in overnight ratings over the weekend. Fox led the way with a 27.7 overnight for the 49ers’ last-second 23-20 win over the Packers in the late window yesterday, marking a record Wild Card overnight rating for the net. The 27.7 rating is up 17% from Seahawks-Redskins in the same window last year. CBS earned a 20.3 overnight for the Chargers’ 27-10 win over the Bengals in the early window yesterday, up 3% from Ravens-Colts in the same window in ’13. Chargers-Bengals also marks the best figure for an AFC Wild Card in the early Sunday window since NBC earned a 21.9 overnight for Patriots-Browns in ’95. Meanwhile, NBC saw the second-best Wild Card Saturday since the current TV format was implemented for the '02 playoffs, behind only ’10. The Colts' 45-44 come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon earned a 17.2 overnight in the 4:30pm ET window, marking the best Saturday afternoon AFC Wild Card since ‘99. The Saints' last-second, 26-24 win over the Eagles earned a 20.5 overnight, marking the second-best overnight ever for a Wild Card game in primetime (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

'14 GAME
'13 GAME
% +/-

STRAIGHT DOWN THE LINE: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes NBC's Al Michaels had the "best call of the weekend" during Saints-Eagles. When Saints K Shayne Graham hit a 32-yard field goal with no time left to win the game, Michaels said, "Right down Broad Street." Michaels is "the best football play-by-play announcer there is and just might be the best who has ever lived." Meanwhile, Fox did a "good job" covering 49ers-Packers. The weather was "a factor with extremely cold temperatures, but Fox didn't overdo it with the constant shots of thermometers and such." It gave "the most attention to what it was calling: a football game" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/6). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes after CBS' Phil Simms "put his faith" in Bengals QB Andy Dalton and "came up empty," he "admitted it" on air. Simms from his "earliest days on TV, has always admitted" when he has been wrong about something, differing from most "NFL analysts who are never wrong" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/6).

HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Tracy Wolfson has "risen from the pack to become a top sideline reporter." Wolfson offers "no self-serving 'he told me' intrusions, just concisely spoken, interesting and often applicable info." She is "a pro" (N.Y. POST, 1/6). In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS in assigning Wolfson as a sideline reporter to the game gave viewers "exactly what I have been lobbying for all year." Wolfson "provided viewers with some of the things I wanted in a Ravens telecast: injury reports, condition of the field, a sense of what was happening on the benches." Zurawik: "What I'm wondering is what happened to the explanation CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus offered that sideline reporters weren't necessary and, worse, they cut into the airtime of all that excellent analysis we would otherwise get from Simms?" (, 1/5).

FOX ON FIRE:'s Richard Deitsch notes there were a "ton of complaints yesterday from customers regarding Fox's streaming" of the 49ers-Packers game on Fox Sports Go. Fox Sports PR issued a statement during the second quarter of the game that read, "Our understanding is that the technical issues we were experiencing have been resolved, and we apologize for any inconvenience" (, 1/6). Meanwhile, on Long Island, Neil Best reported "Fox NFL Sunday" "again won the increasingly crowded race" among NFL pregame shows during the regular season, "averaging 3.2 percent of homes and 4.8 million viewers." That is "more than the last season of NBC's critically acclaimed '30 Rock' -- and 86 other prime time television shows -- averaged during the 2012-13 television season" (, 1/3).

BEST IN THE BUSINESS: In Denver, Dusty Saunders names NBC's Michaels and Cris Collinsworth his "best game team" for NFL coverage. Saunders also gives "a nod to the underrated Mike Mayock, the NFL Network's seasoned analyst who worked efficiently throughout the season with play-by-play man Brad Nessler." Saunders names NBC's Michele Tafoya "best sideline reporter." Saunders awards CBS the "best screen graphics," and votes for CBS' "The NFL Today" as best pregame show (DENVER POST, 1/6). But the N.Y. POST's Mushnick writes Mayock "remains the heavyweight champion of modern football blowhards." Mayock is a "steady speaker of genuine gridiron gibberish." Mushnick: "Is there no one at NBC or NFLN to save him from himself, them from him, us from him? Do his bosses like what they hear? Do they think we like what we hear?" (N.Y. POST, 1/6).