ESPN drew a 7.4 overnight rating for the Lions' 35-27 win over the Saints last night, tying the net's lowest-rated "MNF" telecast of the season to date. Ravens-Browns in Week 12 also drew a 7.4. Last night's rating is down 3% from a 7.6 overnight for last year's Week 15 "MNF" matchup between the Saints and Bears. Lions-Saints peaked with an 8.8 rating between 9:45-10:00pm ET. The game drew a 36.2 local rating in New Orleans (11.2 on ESPN, 15.0 on WDSU-NBC) and a 24.8 in Detroit (8.6 on ESPN, 16.2 on WXYZ-ABC). The game garnered 314,000 viewers on the WatchESPN app (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).
FLEX FOR NOTHING: In L.A., Sam Farmer notes Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. has been suspended for this Sunday night's game against the Vikings and will "lose a paycheck worth $52,529" for his actions Sunday against the Panthers. But the NFL and NBC "lose more, as one of the reasons they moved that game to prime time in the first place was to showcase one of the best -- and evidently most combustible -- players in the game" (L.A. TIMES, 12/22). FS1's Mike Garafolo noted Giants-Vikings was flexed onto NBC and said, "Remember last year on a Sunday night, he made that one-handed catch." The NFL "would love to have him on the field, so the hard part was definitely suspending him and taking him out of that game” (“Fox Sports Live,” FS1, 12/21). In DC, Deron Snyder writes the NFL is "right" in making Beckham sit out. Snyder: "I understand: Offense sells tickets and draws ratings. But you have to draw the line somewhere" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/22). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes Beckham’s three quarters of "dysfunction provided a feast for Fox" on Sunday. The net "showed replays of as many physical eruptions as its cameras could locate." So concerned was Fox that it "not miss a fracas that it kept a small shot of Beckham on-screen during a game break" when the network went to its L.A. studio for an update (N.Y. TIMES, 12/22).
BEAR DOWN: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare noted the Bears' "unenthused television fan base clearly saw no reason to tune in in large numbers" for Sunday afternoon's game against the Vikings, as the broadcast notched a 20.1 local rating on WFLD-Fox. This season, the Bears "haven't really flirted with television ratings anywhere near the 30s, which used to be fairly regular territory for the team." The organization's "rabid fan base, including television viewers, seem to be rapidly reaching the same conclusion -- this is a team mired in mediocrity or worse" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/21).