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Volume 25 No. 7
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Steelers' Comeback Win Over Bengals Sends ESPN To 30% Ratings Increase For "MNF"

ESPN earned a 7.8 overnight rating for the Steelers' 23-20 win over the Bengals on "MNF," up 30% from a 6.0 for the comparable Colts-Jets game in Week 13 last year. That game was the second-lowest-rated for ESPN since acquiring the "MNF" package prior to the '06 season and was its lowest-rated Week 13 "MNF" game. Two years ago, ESPN drew a 10.0 overnight for Cowboys-Redskins in Week 13. Last night's game peaked with an 8.6 rating between 9:45-10:00pm ET. Steelers-Bengals drew a 38.8 local rating in Pittsburgh (11.4 on ESPN, 27.4 on WTAE-ABC) and a 32.8 in Cincinnati (11.1 on ESPN, 21.7 on WLWT-NBC). Dayton (16.5), Baltimore (12.3) and Norfolk (12.1) rounded out the top 5 local markets. Season-to-date, ESPN is averaging a 7.4 rating for "MNF," down 3% from a 7.6 through Week 13 last year (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).

RUNNING THE OPTION: In Pittsburgh, Kevin Gorman wrote "MNF" was "once the main attraction" for football fans, but ratings are down as the NFL has "showcase games on Thursday and Sunday nights, where flex scheduling allows for better matchups." Bengals coach Marvin Lewis prior to last night's game said, "It's probably taken away from when Monday Night Football began because of the Thursdays and Sundays now, but it is the only one. I think it's lost a little bit, but I think it's exciting for the city and the fans" (TRIBLIVE.com, 12/3).

NO FLEX ZONE: In Dallas, Barry Horn notes the NFL yesterday "made the 'non-flex' official" in keeping Week 15's Cowboys-Raiders matchup on "SNF." There had been "speculation" that the contest "might get flexed out of the NBC game back to an afternoon regional broadcast." But that "notion died" when the Cowboys defeated the Redskins last week, improving to 6-6 and remaining in the "postseason hunt" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/5).

CHARGING FORWARD
: In San Diego, Tom Krasovic writes local ratings for the Chargers' Week 13 game were higher than the Rams' by a "blowout." At the same time the Chargers were playing at home against the winless Browns, the Rams were on the road facing the Cardinals. Browns-Chargers drew a 16.3 local rating on KFMB-CBS, which was "nearly three times" the 5.7 for Rams-Cardinals on KSWB-Fox. The Chargers' ratings victory over the Rams also "can't be chalked up to the opponent." The Rams are "defending their turf in L.A.," but if they "want to conquer San Diego, they still have some work to do" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/5).

A VIEW FROM ABOVE: Staff Writer John Ourand talks to NBC Sports Exec Producer Fred Gaudelli about his network using SkyCam as its primary camera angle for some NFL games.