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Volume 25 No. 177
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NFL’s Strong Ratings Season Continues With Record “TNF”

New Orleans drew a 58.5 local rating for "TNF," the best for any NFL market this season
Photo: getty images

The combination of the NFL’s hottest team and the league’s most popular franchise led to ratings gold on Thursday night, as the Cowboys’ 13-10 win over the Saints drew a 14.6 overnight on Fox. It marks the highest-rated “TNF” game ever on any network and is up 36% from the comparable Thursday night game on NBC last year (Redskins-Cowboys). It also is good enough to claim the highest overnight rating for Fox’ broadcast season and is on pace to be the net’s highest rating since the Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship game in January. Last night’s game drew massive numbers locally as well. New Orleans drew a 58.5 local rating, the highest in any market for any NFL game this season, while Dallas drew a strong 36.7 overnight. Season to date, Fox’ “TNF” package is up 4% over last year (Ourand & Carpenter, THE DAILY).

COWBOY UP: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Josh Alper writes having the Cowboys "in a prime time game against a Saints team riding a 10-game winning streak is the sort of thing that you'd expect to spur a good number." However, good TV ratings "aren't anything new this season" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Cassandra Negley writes the Cowboys are "apt to draw big numbers in primetime slots no matter their record." Fox Sports VP/Research, League Operations & Strategy Michael Mulvihill reported last night's 58.5 rating in New Orleans is the "highest in any market for any NFL game this year." Negley notes the viewership "eclipsed Fox’s season-high set two weeks ago" when the Seahawks beat the Packers. That game "drew a 11.9 overnight rating, the highest-rated Thursday night game in two years" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/30). In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. notes last night was "mostly a so-called boring defensive battle that included nine sacks, three turnovers and a season-low in points for the Saints." The rating "spoke to the drawing power of the Cowboys," who "took control early and held on to win the game, with most expecting the Saints to launch a comeback at some point, likely keep eyes glued to the television." This was also the "final scheduled prime-time game of the season" for the Cowboys. But "look for them possibly to get flexed to Sunday night again, most likely" the season finale against the Giants (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 11/30).

CALIFORNIA LOVE: In L.A., Sam Farmer notes teams from the second-largest market in the U.S. will "be center stage the next three weeks," as the "SNF" schedule is Chargers-Steelers (Week 13), Rams-Bears (Week 14) and Eagles-Rams (Week 15). NBC's Al Michaels said this is "absolutely good" for the two L.A. teams. Michaels: "For the Chargers, they get national attention, a prime-time, stand-alone game that has a lot of buzz." Farmer notes it is "exceedingly rare for a team or teams from one market to seize the NBC spotlight in three consecutive weeks, but it's not unprecedented." NBC already has "hopped on the Southern California story line, promoting the three upcoming games" during last week's Packers-Vikings "SNF" matchup by "showing highlights of the Rams and Chargers as 'I Love L.A.' played in the background." NBC Sports Exec Producer Fred Gaudelli said NBC is going to "play up the Los Angeles part of it." He said, "We're going to do some vignettes on the new stadium, and we actually shot in there all day Tuesday. We got our cameras into the construction" (L.A. TIMES, 11/30).

LIVE IN THE MOMENT: Texans play-by-play announcer Marc Vandermeer said that he "got caught up in the moment" Monday when he culminated his call of RB Lamar Miller's 97-yard touchdown run with a "salute to the team's late owner, Bob McNair." Vandermeer during the broadcast said, "That one's for you, Bob." He explained the call by saying, "I thought maybe I might say something after the game if they won, but as the play was unfolding, I was thinking this is going to be one of the greatest plays in the history of the franchise. The whole magic of the night just got to me. It was special" (HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 11/29).

WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes some football fans were mad Sunday afternoon when local KMOV-CBS "cut into CBS' telecast of the Steelers-Broncos NFL game to cover a tornado warning that had been issued for some northern and eastern portions of the St. Louis region." KMOV broke in at roughly 4:45pm CT and "stayed away from football for about half an hour." Steelers-Broncos was "going to halftime when the interruption occurred," so fans only missed about 15 minutes of the game, though some still "were angry." The weather report "not only drew a better rating than the football game, it produced the two highest rated 30-minute blocks of the week (Monday-Sunday) on St. Louis television" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/30).