ESPN saw its year-over-year "MNF" rating increase for the third straight week last night, as the Packers' last-second win over the 49ers last night drew an 8.4 overnight. That is up 38% from a 6.1 rating for the comparable Colts-Titans matchup in Week 6 last year. Last year's game marked the third-lowest "MNF" game since ESPN acquired rights in '06. Two years ago, ESPN drew a 6.3 overnight in Week 6 for Jets-Cardinals. 49ers-Packers peaked with a 10.4 rating in the late stages of the game, from 11:15-11:30pm ET. Milwaukee led all local markets with a combined 33.7 rating (6.9 on ESPN, 26.8 on WISN-ABC), followed by S.F.-San Jose-Oakland with a combined 16.9 rating (5.9 on ESPN, 11.0 on KGO-ABC). Sacramento (14.9), New Orleans (14.8) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (13.4) rounded out the top five markets. The finish to 49ers-Packers also helped the postgame edition of “SportsCenter” with Scott Van Pelt to a 2.5 rating, up 39% from last year (Josh Carpenter, THE DAILY).
KEEP IT LOCAL: In Boston, Chad Finn notes the Red Sox and Patriots games combined for a "staggering" TV number in Boston on Sunday night, as 81% of TVs in the market were tuned in to the Red Sox' defeat of the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS on TBS or the Patriots’ "thrilling 43-40 victory" over the unbeaten Chiefs on NBC’s "SNF." These are "excellent ratings for both NBC and TBS in this market, and expectations were high going in." The NFL had "higher ratings than the MLB playoff game Sunday night." But both NBC and TBS should be "feeling good about their numbers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal notes local TV ratings for Bears games are up 42% from the "five-game mark a year ago." Sunday's OT loss to the Dolphins averaged a 27.17 rating, which is "impressive, but it’s the season-to-date stat that’s an eye-opener." The Bears are averaging a 28.1 rating locally, up from a 19.8 average "for the first five games" in '17 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/16).
RETURN OF THE KING? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay asks, "Is football back?" It "wasn’t so long ago that the NFL was The Sport Everyone Loved to Beat Up On, even more so than baseball." Gay: "Wasn’t football doomed? It was violent, losing ratings and its pregame anthem ceremony was a lightning rod of national controversy." The NFL was "offending half of America before opening kickoff." Now it is "52 or so weeks later and the NFL can lay claim to at least a modest revival." Ratings through the NFL season’s first five weeks "were up 3% -- not a giant number, but a nifty uptick at a moment where the numbers are plunging for basically everything on television." Football remains a sport "facing gathering clouds, clouds that have nothing to do with the White House." But it is "nice to have a little bit of buzz back in the game Americans undeniably still like" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/16).