Patriots, Colts and Cowboys boost NFL ratings

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Carat’s Broadcast and Video Beat took a look at season to date NFL ratings through this past weekend as we head into the playoff stretch drive.


NBC’s Sunday Night Football ratings are down versus last year, despite a lift from week 12 matchup when the Philadelphia Eagles near upset of the New England Patriots gave NBC its second best SNF rating
in its two year history.

On Sunday afternoon, Fox is about even with last year. CBS has slightly better news, with its AFC telecasts buoyed by the aforementioned Patriots and Indianapolis Colts—they’ve helped give the network some of its best single game ratings in years. Of note, both CBS and FOX are above their rating levels from two years ago, quite a feat in this era of viewer fragmentation.

On cable, ESPN’s household ratings are down from last year, when the network launched its unexpectedly strong Monday Night Football telecasts.

An ESPN-record audience watched this week’s New England/Baltimore game. They’re still ahead of their numbers from two years ago when they telecast Sunday night games.

The still-fledgling NFL Network scored a relatively huge rating for last Thursday’s Cowboys/Packers game (they even beat the broadcast networks that night despite being carried in less than 40% of the US) and its two-telecast average is substantially better than last year.

You’ll note from the accompanying chart that ratings for the key sports demographics of Men 18-49 and Adults 18-49 are holding up better than household ratings. Carat says they like to note these things because when demographic ratings don’t hold up, the networks scream “sample error” at Nielsen. No screaming this year.

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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.