NBC Up, CBS Down For Saturday NFL Divisional Games
CBS averaged 29.4 million viewers for the Titans’ upset of the Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round game on Saturday night. That figure is down from Fox’ Rams-Cowboys game in the same window last year (33.4 million), but up from Patriots-Titans two years ago in primetime on CBS (26.7 million). Back in ’17, CBS drew 29.8 million for Patriots-Texans in that primetime slot. Titans-Ravens on Saturday peaked at 31.1 million viewers from 9:30-9:45pm ET. Meanwhile, NBC saw the best Saturday afternoon divisional game audience since ’16 (Patriots-Chiefs). 49ers-Vikings averaged 29.3 million viewers for NBC on Saturday in the 4:30pm window, up from 29.1 million for Chiefs-Colts last year, and up from 27.1 million for Eagles-Falcons two years ago. Minneapolis-St. Paul led all markets with a 39.8 local rating, followed by S.F.-San Jose-Oakland with a 33.2 local rating. With streaming factored in, NBC averaged a total audience delivery of 30.1 million for 49ers-Vikings. The 757,000 streaming viewers for 49ers-Vikings is an NFL record for NBC outside of Super Bowls. Viewership numbers for the two Sunday games -- Chiefs-Texans (CBS) and Packers-Seahawks (Fox) -- will be available later today (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
FLY, EAGLE, FLY: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS "came ready to play" for Titans-Ravens. Zurawik wrote CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle and analyst Dan Fouts are not his "favorite NFL announcing team, but they brought their 'A' game to the playoffs." Zurawik was "especially impressed in the first quarter with the way they accelerated the tempo of their talk." Eagle "would finish with a fact or a statistic," and Fouts "would immediately jump in with a point of analysis or commentary." Zurawik: "And best of all, they were addressing it to the viewer, not talking to each other." CBS "rose to the playoff level" Saturday night "even with its second-string crew" (BALTIMORE SUN, 1/12). THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch writes the CBS production "really delivered" on Titans RB Derrick Henry's "fantastic jump touchdown in the third quarter." CBS after a quick break "produced a stat informing viewers that Henry's touchdown was the first touchdown pass by a running back in a playoff game since Allen Rice of the Vikings" in '87. CBS then went to video of Henry "throwing a pass at Yulee High (Florida) school" in '13. Deitsch: "That only happens with a production team doing deep prep and credit Mark Wolff and his staff" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/13).
NATURE BOY AT LAMBEAU? USA TODAY's Andrew Joseph noted last night during Packers-Seahawks, one of many crowd mics positioned at Lambeau Field was "right in the audible path of a Woo Guy." Viewers at home "couldn't help but notice a fan ... shouting 'Woo! Woo! Woo!' over and over" when the Packers had the ball. All of this was "picked up by the Fox microphones," and this fan was "impossible to ignore." Fox "could not have picked a more unfortunate spot for its crowd microphone" (USATODAY.com, 1/12).
COACH'S PERSPECTIVE: THE ATHLETIC's Deitsch notes Saints coach Sean Payton was a guest analyst yesterday on ESPN's "NFL Countdown" show. What was "interesting" was "how the producers went straight to Payton for the first analyst voice on the first segment (on the Titans-Ravens game) and gave him as many reps as a regular." Deitsch: "I thought Payton was very good, including answering questions about the immediate future of [QB] Drew Brees (who Payton believes will play again in 2020)" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/13).
CHANGES COMING? FRONT OFFICE SPORTS' Michael McCarthy cited sources as saying that ESPN is "preparing an offer that would make Tony Romo the highest-paid sportscaster in TV history, with a multi-year deal that would pay him" between $10-14M annually. One source said that any negotiations for a new contract for Romo "might not wrap up until a month or two" after Super Bowl LIV. Sources said that CBS also "has a right to match any offers for Romo" (FRNTOFFICESPORT.com, 1/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab writes CBS "doesn't want to lose Romo, but it would be hard to match an eight-figure annual salary." If Romo does switch nets, it "would create a huge shift in the sports broadcasting world" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13). Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that the Saints' Brees "still hasn't made a decision about his future," but he has "received calls from a least one non-ESPN network to inquire about whether he would be interested in transitioning from quarterback to TV game analyst." Brees "likely would be viewed as a commodity as an analyst," similar to Romo "when he was wrapping up his NFL career." But Brees has "not decided whether he wants to continue playing, and that leaves the Saints in a precarious position" (ESPN.com, 1/12).