The Patriots continue to be a boon for the NFL’s broadcast partners, as yesterday’s matchup with the Vikings in Fox’ national window drew a 15.9 overnight, the highest rating for a game this season on any network. Vikings-Patriots was up 16% from a 13.7 rating for last year’s Panthers-Saints. Fox also drew an increase yesterday for its regional window, drawing a 9.9 overnight, up 19% from an 8.3 last year in Week 13. The Chargers’ come-from-behind win over the Steelers drew a 12.3 overnight on NBC, off 6% from a 13.0 for the comparable Eagles-Seahawks “SNF” matchup in Week 13 last year. The game peaked at a 13.4 rating between 11:15-11:30pm ET. Despite being down from ’17, “SNF” still won the night in primetime for NBC. Pittsburgh led all local markets with a 45.9 overnight, followed by San Diego with a 22.8. CBS drew a 9.5 for its singleheader window yesterday, down slightly from a 9.9 last year (Josh Carpenter, THE DAILY).
NFL WEEK 13 OVERNIGHT RATINGS
FACING THE MUSIC: ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" aired a live interview with former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt, who was released late Friday night following video of his role in a domestic assault surfacing, and SI.com's Conor Orr wrote the net's Lisa Salters "handled the close-range sit down with the appropriate tact." The net showed the interview live "to prevent the feel of a coddled, redemptive sit down where everything from the outfit to the lighting was arranged by a public relations team looking to soften the blow." Hunt was "pressed on a few of the details that he apparently did not feel were important to share with the Chiefs until the security camera footage was obtained by TMZ" (SI.com, 12/2). Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson wrote Salters and "Countdown" host Sam Ponder "just did terrific work on the Kareem Hunt interview and discussion." Adelson: "Kept a lot of the focus where it belongs, instead of just football." Bleacher Report's David Gardner: "For all the people who naysayed the Kareem Hunt interview before it even happened, allow Lisa Salters to remind you the value of asking challenging questions to on difficult subjects." Yahoo Sports' Shalise Manza Young: "The one thing I wish Lisa Salters had brought up was June incident Hunt was apparently involved in, when he punched a man at an Ohio resort; he said video from February isn't who he is, but he might have done something similar just a couple months later" (TWITTER.com, 12/2).
MEDIA MONITOR: The NFL pregame shows on Sunday all covered the Hunt issue early, with CBS' "The NFL Today" and "Fox NFL Sunday" both leading their broadcasts with the story. CBS spent approximately the first 12 minutes discussing Hunt, while Fox led with approximately four minutes of discussion about Hunt. ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" had coverage of the Hunt story throughout the three-hour broadcast, but the first mention was not until approximately 12 minutes into the broadcast (THE DAILY).
STRAIGHT FROM THE NOTEBOOK: NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King writes there were several examples of "good reporting" on this week's Sunday NFL shows. ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen revealed the NFL "never spoke" to Hunt after the incident, while NFL Network's Ian Rapoport got former NFLer Ray Rice to "dish on lessons to share with Hunt" and Fox' Jay Glazer reported on the Saturday meeting in which Chiefs coach Andy Reid "told the team about the organization's decision to cut Hunt"(NBCSPORTS.com, 12/3).
Alabama’s thrilling come-from-behind win over Georgia in the SEC Championship on Saturday led CBS to the highest-rated regular season college football game on any network in seven years. The game from 4:00-7:45pm ET drew a 10.5 overnight rating, up 25% from last year’s Georgia-Auburn game, and marks the second-highest rated SEC Championship game ever, behind the ’09 Alabama-Florida matchup (11.8). Alabama-Georgia peaked at a 14.4 rating from 7:30-7:45pm. Birmingham led all local markets for the game with a 56.7 rating, followed by Atlanta with a 33.9. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s 39-27 win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship on Saturday afternoon -- which helped land the Sooners in the CFP -- earned a 6.8 overnight on ABC, up 58% from last year’s Oklahoma-TCU game (4.3 overnight). OU-Texas peaked at an 8.7 overnight in the game’s fourth quarter. For the Big Ten title game, Ohio State’s win over Northwestern drew a 5.6 overnight on Fox, down 31% from an 8.0 last year for Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin. While down from last year, OSU-Northwestern was up slightly from a 5.5 for Penn State-Wisconsin in ’16 and did give Fox a win among all networks in primetime Saturday. The Pac-12 title game’s rating was aided by a move from cable to broadcast this year, as the Friday night game between Washington and Utah earned a 3.1 rating, up from a 2.7 last year on ESPN (USC-Stanford). Two years ago, Washington-Colorado aired on Fox and drew a 3.9 overnight. The Clemson-Pitt ACC Championship on Saturday night drew a 2.8 overnight on ABC from 8:00-11:45pm, down from a 3.7 last year for Clemson-Miami. On Saturday afternoon, ABC drew a 2.7 rating for UCF's come-from-behind win over Memphis in the AAC title game, up from a 2.5 last year.
GAME AWAY FROM THE GAME: THE ATHLETIC's John Walters noted there was "compelling drama in the final moments of the Fresno State-Boise State game." Late in the fourth quarter, ESPN’s cameras caught Boise State RB Alexander Mattison being "tackled hard, his helmet bouncing violently off the frozen playing surface." Mattison "struggled to stand up afterward, clearly in a daze." ESPN’s cameras "remained on Mattison as he argued with Boise State’s training staff on the sideline." He clearly "wanted to return to the game and clearly they wanted him to head to the medical tent." ESPN sideline reporter Todd McShay "kept viewers abreast of the developing situation." At one point in-booth analyst Brian Griese suggested Boise State coach Bryan Harsin needed "to take control of this situation" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/2).
ESPN is still planning to have NASCAR coverage on ESPN.com going forward despite laying off Bob Pockrass, the company's last full-time NASCAR reporter. A network spokesperson cited a broad amount of resources at ESPN’s disposal but did not get more specific as to how ESPN will cover the sport moving ahead. Remaining talent at the network who have been on the NASCAR beat include Marty Smith, Ryan McGee and Ricky Craven. Smith and McGee largely cover college football but also have helped out with NASCAR coverage in recent years, particularly McGee. Craven, who does “SportsCenter” hits on NASCAR on top of the occasional column, would be the last person covering just NASCAR if he returns in ’19 and the network does not hire anyone else. ESPN dropped its NASCAR media rights after ’14.
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sarah Krouse cited sources as saying that Verizon's Oath group is "exploring subscriptions to HuffPost news and Yahoo Sports content, among other ideas." Oath earlier this month said that Yahoo Finance would "start such a service" in early '19. Sources said that execs "decided that while Oath would still sell and serve ads, they should focus more on getting existing users of properties like Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports to visit more frequently, stay longer and pay for some content" (WSJ.com, 12/2).
STEPPING AWAY: Tennis Channel’s Justin Gimelstob is being "sidelined in the wake of a recent arrest on felony battery charges and an expose in The Telegraph listing a string of alleged assaults by the former tennis pro over the past three years." Tennis Channel in a statement said Gimelstob asked for a "leave of absence while he works through this issue." Gimelstob was "arrested on Nov. 21 for allegedly attacking his former friend, venture capitalist Randall Kaplan, on Halloween" (DEADLINE.com, 11/30).
SAFE BET: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's deal with MGM Resorts Int'l will "change the way games are broadcast." Raissman: "Would we be surprised if baseball gambling analysts are added to broadcast booths or studios? There’s gold in them thar hills." The TV outlets airing baseball have the "time to do in-game spots to encourage betting on games" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/2).