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Volume 25 No. 29
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NFL Wild Card Overnights: All Windows See Double-Digit Declines; Saints-Panthers Leads

The NFL’s broadcast partners saw double-digit declines in ratings for the four playoff openers over the weekend. Fox led all networks with a 20.4 rating for Saints-Panthers yesterday afternoon in the late window, down 15% from a 24.0 last year for Packers-Giants. Yesterday’s number is also down 14% from a 23.6 overnight in ’16 for Redskins-Packers. Meanwhile, CBS in the early window yesterday drew a 17.2 rating for the Jaguars’ 10-3 win over the Bills, down 10% from a 19.2 for Steelers-Dolphins in the same window last year. Jaguars-Bills peaked at a 21.5 rating between 4:00-4:15pm ET. On Saturday night, NBC drew a 14.9 overnight for the Falcons’ 26-13 win over the Rams in the opening NFC Wild Card. That number is down 10% from a 16.5 for Seahawks-Lions in the Saturday primetime matchup last year. Two years ago, CBS had the Saturday primetime matchup, drawing a 19.2 overnight for Steelers-Bengals. Falcons-Rams peaked at a 16.0 rating from 9:30-10:00pm. Finally, Saturday’s opening Titans-Chiefs AFC Wild Card on ESPN, with a simulcast on ABC, drew a 14.7 overnight rating, down 11% from a 16.6 last year for the opening Texans-Raiders telecast, which featured backup QBs starting for both teams. Two years ago, ESPN and ABC earned a 16.2 overnight for Chiefs-Texans. Saturday’s game peaked at an 18.4 overnight from 7:30-7:45pm (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).

STILL THE ONE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday touched on the declining regular-season ratings and said, "We always want ratings to go up, but we're 37 of the top 50 shows, which is higher than ever." Goodell: "We're likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox -- excuse me on all of television, the Fox Sunday afternoon game. Sunday night, prime time is for the seventh year in a row the No. 1 show. Thursday night football is No. 2. I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear" (ESPN.com, 1/7). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes the "narrative that the NFL isn’t popular anymore is just silly." It remains "wildly popular, and it’s still programming gold for television" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/8).

WE'RE HAVING A BABY! The TIMES' Jones writes the best sideline report over the weekend came from Fox' Erin Andrews, who noted at the start of the second half of the Panthers-Saints Wild Card game that the wife of Saints DT Tony McDaniel was "going into labor and that coach Sean Payton needed to tell him." It was "definitely a what-did-she-just-say moment." Andrews "followed up later with news that McDaniel’s wife wasn’t in labor but instead had a stomach bug." Jones: "Wild stuff" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/8).

SOMETHING'S COOKING
: In N.Y., Bob Raissman cited sources as saying that NFL Network execs have been "checking out studio locations throughout Manhattan." Raissman: "Are they looking for expanded space to bring shows to NYC? Or looking for a new studio for 'Good Morning Football?'" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/7).