NFL Wild Card Overnights: Ratings Up Across Board; Eagles-Bears Leads
The NFL’s four Wild Card games over the weekend saw aggregate overnight ratings rise 10%, continuing a rebound seen by the league during the regular season. The Eagles’ late victory over the Bears yesterday was the top-rated game, with NBC drawing a 22.9 overnight rating in the late afternoon window. That figure is up 12% from Fox’ Saints-Panthers in the same window last year, but down from a 24.0 for Fox’ Packers-Giants two seasons ago. Eagles-Bears also will mark the best rating for any show on TV since Super Bowl LII last February. NBC was in the Sunday Wild Card national window for the first time this season, and the 22.9 is the net’s best figure for any NFL playoff game since NBC re-acquired league rights prior to the ’06 season. Eagles-Bears also is NBC’s best Wild Card game since a 23.3 overnight for Raiders-Broncos in ’94. Yesterday’s game peaked at a 27.6 from 7:45-8:00pm ET. Philadelphia led all markets with a 44.6 local rating, followed by Chicago with a 43.1. New Orleans was No. 3 with a 34.5, with the Saints now hosting the Eagles in the Divisional round. Meanwhile, CBS drew a 17.8 overnight for Chargers-Ravens in the early Sunday afternoon window, up from the net’s 17.2 for Jaguars-Bills last year. Two years ago, Steelers-Dolphins in the same window drew a 19.2.
STARTING STRONG: Fox had the Saturday night Wild Card for the first time under the current NFL rights deal, and Cowboys-Seahawks delivered 29.4 million viewers for the net. That is the that window’s best figure since CBS drew 31.2 million viewers for Steelers-Bengals in ’16 and an easy primetime win for Fox. Last year, NBC in the Saturday primetime spot drew 22.8 million viewers for Falcons-Rams. Fox Sports Go had an average minute audience of 580,445 viewers for the game. Meanwhile, ESPN/ABC on Saturday afternoon drew 22.8 million viewers for the Colts’ 21-7 win over the Texans, up from 22.2 million viewers for Titans-Chiefs last year. Two years ago, Texans-Raiders drew 25.1 million viewers in the same window (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
LOOKING FOR A RE-DO: SPORTING NEWS' Michael McCarthy noted ESPN has "apologized for playing the Confederate Civil War anthem 'Dixie'" during the Colts-Texans AFC Wild Card on Saturday. Some viewers accused the net of "racial insensitivity" after watching a graphic depicting Colts QB Andrew Luck as a Civil War officer "while 'Dixie' sounded in the background." The graphic was "supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to the humorous @CaptAndrewLuck Twitter account, which imagines the Colts QB as a Civil War officer writing home to his mother." A source said that "Dixie" was "not part of the graphic when the piece was initially produced and approved," but was instead "dropped into the piece at the last moment by a staffer in the production truck" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/6). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote in the "grand scheme of things, a 20-second snippet of a song obviously isn't the gravest threat facing our nation, considering all else at play in our rapidly changing culture." However, it was a "tone-deaf move" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/6).
WAITING FOR SHOWTIME: In S.F., Scott Ostler wrote if the NFL's Wild Card weekend is the "opening act of the concert that is the playoffs," this one was "cute, but not thrilling." Ostler: "We're ready for the headliner, the Patrick Mahomes Experience." The Chiefs QB has "become the Tiger Woods of the NFL." Ostler: "If he's playing, your grandmother will watch. And it's not just the lightweight fans who parachute in for the playoffs. Everybody wants to see what Mahomes has for us when the games get real" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/7).