Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 85
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NFL Week 1 Overnights: Gains For Fox, NBC Despite Blowouts

Fox led Sunday's coverage with a 15.9 overnight rating for Giants-Cowboys in the national window
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Fox led Sunday's coverage with a 15.9 overnight rating for Giants-Cowboys in the national window
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Fox led Sunday's coverage with a 15.9 overnight rating for Giants-Cowboys in the national window
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NFL is likely going to end up with an increase in ratings for Week 1, fueled by a gain for the Sunday national window, “Sunday Night Football” and the NFL Kickoff game. Fox easily led yesterday’s coverage with a 15.9 overnight rating for the national window, which featured the Cowboys’ 35-17 win over the Giants. Last year, Fox drew a 15.5 for coverage featuring Cowboys-Panthers. Two years ago, ratings for all networks were affected by coverage of Hurricane Irma. The 15.9 for Fox is the networks best overnight for Week 1 since ’16, when Giants-Cowboys drew a 16.9. In Fox’ regional window, the net was down 2%. Meanwhile, NBC got a primetime win last night with the Patriots’ 33-3 victory over the Steelers. The game drew a 14.8 overnight, up from a 14.4 for Bears-Packers in the same window last year. Pittsburgh led all markets with a 42.3 local rating, followed by Providence (37.4), Boston (36.3), New Orleans (22.7) and Denver (19.6). In the singleheader window yesterday afternoon, CBS drew a 10.2 overnight for coverage featuring two blowouts – Chiefs-Jaguars and Titans-Browns. That is down from a 10.6 last year, when CBS had a close Patriots-Texans game in the Week 1 singleheader. For pregame action, “Fox NFL Sunday” from 12:00-1:00pm ET was up 11% from ’18 (4.0 vs. 3.6), tied for the show’s best Week 1 figure since ’03. “Fox NFL Kickoff” from 11:00am-12:00pm also was up 18% (1.3 vs. 1.1), while CBS’ “The NFL Today” was down 7% (2.6 vs. 2.8). ESPN drew a 1.3 for “Sunday NFL Countdown” yesterday, up 18% from last year and tied for the show’s best figure since Week 2 back in ’16 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL WEEK 1: SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGS
NET
'19 WINDOW
RAT.
'18 WINDOW
RAT.
% +/-
CBS
(single)
10.2
(single)
10.6
-3.8%
Fox
(regional)
8.6
(regional)
8.8
-2.3%
Fox
Giants-Cowboys (85%)
15.9
Cowboys-Panthers (80%)
15.5
2.6%
NBC
Steelers-Patriots
14.8
Bears-Packers
14.4
2.8%
Download the
NFL Week 1 Overnight Ratings

TALK OF THE TOWN: THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch notes NFL pregame studio shows yesterday "opened with Antonio Brown," who was released from the Raiders on Saturday and quickly signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. Most analysts were "critical of Brown," but a some addressed "other facets of the story including the role of the management of the Raiders." The first segment of "Fox NFL Sunday" opened with Jay Glazer "reporting that the Raiders tried to trade Brown as early as Thursday." Deitsch: "Then came the studio crew discussions and Fox lit up Brown more harshly than any other group I watched." CBS' "The NFL Today" opened with "some headlines of games involving CBS teams, which led into a 45-second video recap of Brown's last couple months." "Sunday NFL Countdown" led with an "11-plus minute segment on Brown." Host Sam Ponder "quickly tossed to analyst Randy Moss," who has been referenced with regards to Brown "given the Raiders-to-Patriots connection" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/9).

DROPPING THE BALL: In K.C., Pete Grathoff notes CBS' coverage of Chiefs-Jaguars yesterday was "supposed to return from a commercial break about halfway through the fourth quarter and the Chiefs leading 37-19." Instead, studio host James Brown said that the net was "taking viewers in Kansas City to a more competitive game" -- the Titans-Browns contest. But after that game "turned out to be a dud," Chiefs fans were shown Bills-Jets. Brown "later blamed the switch on a 'production truck losing power' in Jacksonville." National viewers watching the Chiefs game also were "switched to a different game" (K.C. STAR, 9/9). USA TODAY's Lorenzo Reyes notes CBS throughout the local broadcast "continued to keep viewers updated as to the progress of the game" (USA TODAY, 9/9).

MAKING LEMONADE: THE ATHLETIC's Deitsch notes the CBS crew of Tony Romo, Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson was assigned to Titans-Browns, which "turned out to be a challenge" as the Titans won in a 30-point blowout. The group did "solid work given the game conditions." There was "little second-half drama so Romo and Nantz had to figure out ways to maintain audience interest." Part of that was "good-natured ribbing, part of that was looking ahead for both teams, and also reminding people not to overweight opening week" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/9).

LETTING IT FLY: Greg Papa called his first 49ers broadcast yesterday on KNBR-AM, and THE ATHLETIC's Steve Berman wrote while Papa was "known as the Raiders' play-by-play voice for a lot of reasons," that "famous touchdown call was always his signature." Papa "kept his 49ers touchdown call under wraps for months, including throughout the preseason." Finally, when 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 39-yard score in the third quarter, Papa yelled, "TOUCHDOWWWWNNNN ... SAN FRAN-CISCO!!!" Analyst Tim Ryan "sounded surprised by Papa's choice and screamed, 'Yeah, baby! I love that!'" Berman noted Papa and Ryan "don't seem like they have perfect chemistry from a personality standpoint ... yet." But it "seems like the two respect and like each other, so they'll probably get more out of each other's personalities as the season progresses" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/8).

OUTSIDE THE BOX: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote if "any of the network geniuses had the guts to defy the NFL, and actually think of providing viewers with something unique, they would have already hired" Colin Kaepernick. He "would attract more eyeballs" and "would be great for their ratings business" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/8).

TRENDING UPWARDS? In L.A., Stephen Battaglio wrote interest in the NFL is being "lifted by the infusion of a new generation of star players into the league." Fox Sports Exec VP and Head Of Strategy & Analytics Mike Mulvihill said, "A couple of years ago when the ratings were down, we were in a post-Peyton Manning period when there was a dearth of exciting young players. Now it feels like there is a lot of young talent in the glamour positions that we haven't seen in a while." Battaglio noted the NFL this year will allow networks to "offer their own Sunday afternoon game at the same time a local market team is playing a home game." Mulvihill: "The number of blacked-out windows this year will be about half of what it was in previous years. Windows that previously did not have a game will have a game, and it will only help. It's more football" (L.A. TIMES, 9/7).

MIXED BAG: In Buffalo, Alan Pergament writes CBS' Bills-Jets broadcast had some "good moments and some head-scratching moments," before CBS' Kevin Harlan "raised his excitement level when the Bills win was assured." Some of the "chief head-scratching moments were provided" by former NFLer Rich Gannon, as he at one point "confused" Bills WR John Brown with Jets WR Josh Bellamy; both wear No. 15. Gannon also said that the Jets needed QB Josh Allen to "play all 16 games, when he undoubtedly meant the Bills." Gannon had some "good moments, too," such as when he suggested that Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll "get away from calling short route passes and attack the Jets' questionable cornerbacks." The Bills "finally employed the strategy in the fourth quarter, when Brown scored the game-winning, 38-yard touchdown" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/9).