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2014 College Basketball Postseason Ratings Roundup

This post is going to be a little more useful than last week’s. Here are ratings for all 67 games of the NCAA Tournament, every game of the NIT on traditional television, and every game or coverage window of the women’s tournament. The top four games of the tournament all involved Kentucky; their Elite 8 and third round games both did better than the other Final Four game, though curiously the much-hyped matchup between Kentucky and Louisville not only did worse than all those games, but another third-round game involving North Carolina. Kentucky was also involved in the most-watched second-round game. Only two NCAA Tournament games not on truTV did worse than the most watched NIT game, the championship game. Meanwhile, the top seven women’s games involved at least one of the two undefeated teams, Connecticut or Notre Dame.

CBS numbers from Sports Media Watch, Turner and ESPN numbers from Son of the Bronx. 18-49 numbers, when available, from TVbytheNumbers and The Futon Critic. Click here to learn more about how to read the charts. Read More »

Cable Network Musical Chairs and TNA on Destination America (Huh?)

Discovery Communications has long been at the forefront of new technology; their HD Theater channel (which eventually became Velocity) was one of the first HD channels, and before that they were one of the first companies to take advantage of the explosion of channels digital cable opened up. In 1996, Discovery opened no fewer than five new channels: besides Animal Planet, which Discovery was able to get in nearly as many households as their main network, Discovery launched Discovery Kids, Discovery Civilization, Discovery Science, and Discovery Travel and Living. Of those four, not one still has its launch name, and only Discovery Science didn’t change its name multiple times, becoming the Science Channel in 2002 - and even that doesn’t count addition, subtraction, and changing of articles and descriptors. Discovery Kids became a joint venture with Hasbro and relaunched as the Hub, but reverted to Discovery Family earlier this year. Discovery Civilization, originally Discovery’s answer to the History Channel, became a joint venture with the New York Times, rebranded as Discovery Times in 2003, and began adding more shows about current events and “American people and culture”. In 2008, after the Times had dropped out of the venture, it became Investigation Discovery, primarily a home for “true crime”-type shows. But that’s nothing compared to what happened to Discovery Travel and Living, which went through no fewer than two major shifts in focus.

By 1998, it had become Discovery Home and Leisure, Discovery’s answer to HGTV. In 2008, after it had become clear that the channel wasn’t standing out in the crowded home improvement channel marketplace, Discovery relaunched it with much fanfare as Planet Green, the first network dedicated to the environment and ecological living. Discovery infused $50 million into original programming for the channel, but it went nowhere, especially with its launch coinciding with the onset of the Great Recession, and by 2010 programs unrelated to the network’s ecological theme began creeping into the schedule. By 2012 the channel was clearly just limping along until Discovery could find a new format to replace it with and put Planet Green out of its misery. That new format turned out to be Destination America, a channel targeted towards “middle America” with a collection of America-centric shows, best described as a make good for Discovery selling the Travel Channel in 2007.

And now? Now Destination America announced on Wednesday it will be adding TNA’s Impact professional wrestling when TNA’s contract with Spike expires at the end of the year.

All this got me thinking about the fate of G4, which Comcast launched in 2002 as a channel about video games. In 2004, it absorbed the TechTV channel and became known as G4techTV for a short time. It started becoming a more generically male-oriented channel similar to Spike, but by 2009 was starting to decline, and in late 2010 DirecTV dropped the channel citing limited interest, effectively putting the writing on the wall. Comcast entered talks to sell G4 to the UFC or WWE to become their own networks in 2011, but those talks fell through, and in 2012 Comcast wound down G4′s once-popular (or at least cult-following-holding) remaining original programming, X-Play and Attack of the Show! At the end of the year, it looked like G4 had found its next incarnation when it was announced it would rebrand as Esquire Network.

Then in September 2013, barely two weeks before the much-postponed rebrand (originally slated for April) was to take effect, Comcast, now through its NBCUniversal division, announced that they would rebrand Style, not G4, as Esquire Network, citing Style’s considerable target demographic overlap with other networks in the NBCU portfolio, specifically E! and the networks Bravo and Oxygen Comcast acquired in the merger. Esquire Network, by contrast, was seen as filling a hole underserved elsewhere in the company or on all of cable television (some of Style’s female-skewing shows would remain on the male-skewing but metrosexual-oriented network), and G4, for which Esquire represented a more natural evolution of, was at least a part of the company that wasn’t nearly as duplicated as the glut of female-oriented networks Comcast had. But the move of Esquire to Style was no reprieve for G4, which by that point had declined to 62 million homes to Style’s DirecTV-infused 75 million. Comcast allowed its carriage agreements to lapse and even dropped G4 from its own lineup, and recently word came out that G4 would disappear from those few channel lineups that still had it at the end of this month.

That Comcast would move the Esquire Network rebrand off of G4 and onto Style, but then let G4 fade out of existence rather than do anything else with the channel space, effectively pissing off two fanbases for the price of one, never made sense to me. As the cases of Destination America and G4, not to mention Fox’s national sports network shakeup of 2013, show, big media companies are loath to attempt to start a new network from scratch, preferring to rebrand an existing network that isn’t doing much of anything but has spots on channel lineups already secured. Of all the companies I mentioned in Part IV of my Nexus of Television and Sports series that control most of your channel lineup, none has actually launched an entirely new full-time English-language cable network other than one of the Epix channels since the Fox Business network in 2007 (and the Smithsonian Channel shortly before that), unless you count the 2010 launch of Fox Soccer Plus to replace bankrupt Setanta Sports. Smaller entities launch networks from scratch only because they don’t have existing channel space to begin with, and even then most of the ones that have come along in recent years owe their existence to the condition requiring Comcast to carry minority-owned networks as a result of the NBCUniversal merger, with the possible exception of 2012′s beIN Sport; by my estimation, the network in the most homes to be founded since 2007 other than beIN Sport is the American version of RT in 2010.

For most of the networks launched in the midst of the digital cable boom of the late 90s and 2000s, they find themselves in a game of format musical chairs, desperately looking for something, anything, that will attract an audience and catch on, and if they don’t they become the target for the next channel idea the suits come up with. When Oprah Winfrey wants to have her own network, Discovery merges Discovery Health into the somewhat redundant FitTV and gives Oprah the space freed up. When Fox wants to launch a spinoff of the National Geographic Channel focused on animals, they shut down Fox Reality to do so. Fox even decided to launch its new FX spinoff FXX concurrently with its sports shakeup last year on Fox Soccer, even though that placed it in a limited number of households and not only in a channel neighborhood with sports channels, but in many areas on a sports package. In this light, it is mystifying that Comcast would allow themselves to let a channel space wither away so casually, even one in as few homes and without DirecTV carriage as G4. Heck, Destination America, a little over a year ago, was pegged at under 60 million households and it’s hardly withering away.

Nothing better illustrates how badly oversaturated the market for linear television channels is. What has become apparent over the last seven years plus is that people will follow the content (or at least that’s what Destination America hopes); the channel it happens to be on is just an address, and whatever else happens to be on the channel is immaterial, and the people that own the channels just want to secure one of the limited number of things out there that have or will attract an audience to their channel. Which brings me back to TNA.

TNA, for those who don’t know, has spent most of the new millenium desperately trying to be a competitor w ith WWE. It got its start in 2002 running pay-per-views on a weekly basis, which pretty much no one else was doing, allowing it to very much live up to the pun in its name. Eventually in 2004 TNA secured a deal to run a weekly show on Fox Sports Net, allowing them to move to the monthly pay-per-view model used by the WWE, but that show was cancelled after a year, and iMPACT! (as the show was called then) moved to a webcast for a few months before being picked up by Spike, which had just lost WWE’s flagship Raw program. TNA never really went anywhere on Spike, but it attracted a consistent, strong audience of over a million viewers every Thursday (and Monday in a brief, disastrous attempt to go against Raw, and Wednesday in recent months), and when Bellator MMA moved to Spike after that channel lost the UFC TNA was instrumental in helping build an audience for it. However, relations between TNA and Spike soured in recent months to the point that Spike would not even negotiate a renewal of TNA’s contract, merely letting TNA stay on the air until it found a new partner, a partner that proved far inferior to what Spike could offer.

Wrestling has long been an innovator when it comes to technological change - wrestling was a big part of what built WTBS in the 70s - and TNA’s adoption of monthly pay-per-views and going to the Internet when FSN didn’t renew their contract, even if it was a necessary result of circumstances, is a big part of that. In that light, and in light of the launch of the over-the-top WWE Network earlier this year (even if subscriber counts for it have failed to meet expectations), it’s somewhat disappointing to me that TNA would shack up with a marginally-distributed network, one without much of an identity at all but to the extent it has one meshes questionably well with TNA’s content, rather than blaze a trail on the Internet in an environment friendlier to webcasts than the last time they tried it. Heck, near as I can tell TNA will completely disappear for the rest of the year with Spike airing a collection of “best of” shows until TNA makes its Destination America debut in the new year. There are a number of reasons to suspect TNA is in the midst of a long, slow decline, and while I don’t know that moving to the Internet would have stopped it in the long or short term, I certainly don’t think moving to a marginally distributed cable network at a time when cable as a whole may be on the decline will help.

Sports Ratings Highlights for Week of November 3-9 and Weekend Sports Ratings for November 15-16

Primetime
  Vwrs
(000)

Change

  Lst Wk Lst Yr

#1

=

=

3049

-40%

-14%

#2

=

=

1261

+24%

+33%

#3

=

+1

392

-34%

-30%

#4

=

-1

239

-16%

-62%

#5

=

=

197

+79%

+16%

#6

+1

=

104

+28%

-3%

#7

-1

+2

85

-11%

+8%

#8

+1

=

78

+32%

-18%

#9

-1

-2

70

+17%

-33%

#10

=

=

35

0%

+30%

Total Day
  Vwrs
(000)

Change

  Lst Wk Lst Yr

#1

=

=

1280

-25%

-11%

#2

+1

+1

323

+12%

+18%

#3

-1

-1

297

-10%

-12%

#4

+1

+1

178

+58%

+20%

#5

-1

-1

171

+41%

+8%

#6

+1

=

86

+30%

+18%

#7

-1

=

71

-7%

0%

#8

+1

-1

61

+11%

-14%

#9

-1

=

50

-14%

-22%

#10

=

=

21

-32%

0%

I don’t know if I’m going to extend the most-viewed sports events list that incorporates SportsBusiness Daily information to a full top 50 like I did this week. I was doing top 10s before, and honestly I strongly suspect I’m missing Spanish-language numbers for another Mexico friendly, but I wanted to stretch my legs this week with SBD reporting a full bank of information. I may still try to incorporate everything with over a million viewers, and a few things with less, in future weeks when SBD cooperates, but things will be very much played by ear. A lot depends on what I feel I can do in the future without running afoul of the powers that be, as I’d like to be able not to have to wait for the paywall at some point in the future.

The late NFL doubleheader didn’t have very much overrun into primetime and ended up not being reported by TV Media Insights, so I only know the viewership figures reported by TVbytheNumbers to the ten thousands place and they may not be entirely accurate. Also, some information about the live Bellator card I needed to find a Spike press release for in order to have numbers for the full card.

Oh, and of course the titles I added to the charts on the sides mean I have even more space I need to fill in this area…

Click here to learn more about how to read the charts. Click here to see the charts.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 11

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that even with the bit about the early flexes, this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it still says late games start at 4:15 ET instead of 4:25):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 5
  • In effect during Weeks 5-17
  • Up to 2 games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Weeks 5-10
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks starting Week 11, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 in 2006 and 2011, because NBC hosted Christmas night games those years and all the other games were moved to Saturday (and so couldn’t be flexed), but are otherwise protected after Week 5. As I understand it, during the Week 5-10 period the NFL and NBC declare their intention to flex out a game two weeks in advance, at which point CBS and Fox pick one game each to protect.
  • In the past, three teams could appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. I don’t know how the expansion of the Thursday Night schedule affects this, if it does. No team starts the season completely tapped out at any measure; ten teams have five primetime appearances each, but only the Packers, Bears, 49ers, Steelers, and Saints don’t have games in the main flex period, and all have games in the early flex period. I don’t know if both of the games scheduled for 12/20 count towards the total, or only the one in primetime. A list of all teams’ number of appearances is in my Week 5 post.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 11 (November 16):

  • Selected game: New England @ Indianapolis.

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Selected game: Dallas @ NY Giants.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Selected game: Denver @ Kansas City.

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 8-2 v. 6-4. A teensy bit lopsided, but still a very good game.
  • Protected games: Steelers-Bengals (CBS) and Seahawks-Eagles (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Colts-Browns, Ravens-Dolphins, and Chiefs-Cardinals are all options, with Bills-Broncos fading, but none of those are particularly appealing.
  • Analysis: With the other two games being matchups of 6-4 teams, Chiefs-Cardinals definitely has an edge over its competition at 7-3 v. 9-1, which actually makes it a game better than the tentative. But if it’s standing at 8-3 v. 10-1, and Patriots-Chargers is at 8-3 v. 6-5, which is the best-case scenario for a flex, I’m not sure that’s overcoming the tentative game bias, especially when Tom Brady is involved. Worth noting that Fox has the doubleheader this week, so it would take a crossflex for Chiefs-Cardinals to reach a larger audience if it doesn’t get flexed in, and the protected game is plenty good enough for them anyway; of course, Patriots-Chargers is a CBS game too. If a team like the Patriots weren’t involved I might hold off for a week, but as it is?
  • Final prediction: New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (no change).

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 7-3 with the division lead in the NFC East potentially at stake.
  • Protected games: Broncos-Chargers (CBS) and 49ers-Seahawks (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Bengals-Browns and Dolphins-Patriots are options, with Packers-Bills and Texans-Colts dark horses, but time may have run out for them if they ever really had a chance. Dolphins-Patriots is the best of the bunch at 6-4 v. 8-2; if it gets to be 8-4 v. 10-2, and Cowboys-Eagles starts getting lopsided at 9-3 v. 7-5 either way, that’s really only a game better than the tentative with the same gap in records, which isn’t going to overcome the tentative game bias. again especially when the Cowboys are involved. These two teams are guaranteed to have the top two records in the division when the decision is made, making lopsidedness the only possible point against it and this prediction officially a mortal lock.
  • Final prediction: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (no change).

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 6-4 v. 9-1 is getting worryingly lopsided, and the 49ers have tied the Seahawks for second in the division, but what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers at 7-3 v. 7-4 is the only game involving two teams over .500, with Ravens-Texans a dark horse. That’s not overcoming the tentative game bias.

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (5-5)
SOUTH
46-4
57-3
5-5
NORTH
36-3-1
67-4
7-4
WEST
27-3
6-4
7-3 6-4
EAST
18-2
6-4
6-4 6-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (5-5)
SOUTH
44-6
57-3
4-6
EAST
37-3
67-3
7-3
NORTH
27-3
6-4
7-3 6-4
WEST
18-1
2 tied at 6-4
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Browns-Ravens, Lions-Packers, Chargers-Chiefs, Bills-Patriots, Bengals-Steelers, Cardinals-49ers.

2013-14 College Basketball Ratings Roundup

In honor of the start of the college basketball season, here are last year’s college basketball ratings!

Getting nailed on the Olympics is one thing, getting nailed on college basketball is quite another. SportsBusiness Daily had two different weeks where they didn’t get any CBS numbers in time for their deadline, and Sports Media Watch didn’t get numbers for the total of four college basketball windows that were affected by that for its own college basketball ratings roundup. The highest of the four games’ overnights I estimated would have finished with around a 1.7 final household rating, which is high enough that I’m only listing the top ten regular-season college basketball ratings of the year. I am listing all 109 women’s college basketball games to air on a national Nielsen-rated network, though, although the one CBS game didn’t have viewers reported so I have to guesstimate it. (That chart is going to be in a very unfinished state.)

The most-watched game not involving Duke, Michigan State or Kentucky was San Diego State-Kansas on CBS January 5 with 2.623 million viewers, also the most watched game not involving a power conference team (assuming you count the American as a power conference – Louisville-Kentucky drew 3.246 million viewers to CBS December 28). Note that that game had an NFL playoff game as a lead-in and spilled into primetime. The next such games were Michigan-Ohio State in a Big Ten semifinal, which drew 2.471 million viewers to CBS March 15, and Syracuse-Virginia, which drew 2.45 million viewers to ESPN March 1. The most watched game on ESPN not to involve Duke, either Michigan team, Kentucky, or Syracuse was Kansas-Texas February 1, which drew 1.924 million viewers. The most-watched non-CBS game I don’t have 18-49 numbers for is Kansas State-Kansas January 11, which drew 1.39 million viewers to ESPN.

The most-watched game to involve solely non-power-conference teams was the Mountain West Championship which drew 1.909 million viewers to CBS March 15. The most-watched game involving a non-power-conference team on ESPN was Boise State-Kentucky on December 10, which drew 1.213 million viewers; the most-watched non-power-conference-only game on ESPN was the WCC Championship March 11, with 1.045 million viewers. The most-watched game between two non-power-conference teams that wasn’t a conference championship was VCU-Saint Louis on ESPN February 15, which drew just 711,000 viewers. (If the American counts as a non-power conference, Connecticut-Louisville drew 1.772 million viewers to CBS on March 8, the American championship between those two schools drew 1.688 million viewers to ESPN March 15, and the game at Connecticut drew 1.522 million viewers to ESPN January 18. If the Big East counts as a non-power conference, Villanova-Syracuse drew 1.448 million viewers to CBS December 28, and Butler-Georgetown drew 1.083 million viewers to CBS February 8.)

The most watched game not on ESPN, CBS, or ABC was Ohio State-Notre Dame on ESPN2 December 21, which drew 1.323 million viewers and only barely made the top 100 overall. The most watched game not on ESPN, CBS, ABC, or ESPN2 was Ohio State-Marquette on Fox November 16 with 799,000 viewers, followed by the Big East Championship on Fox Sports 1 March 15 with 702,000 viewers. ESPNU’s most-watched game was Clemson-Syracuse February 9 with 675,000 viewers, which was edged out by the Pac-12 Championship on Fox Sports 1 March 15 with 680,000 viewers. Its next-most-watched game was Belmont-Kentucky December 21 with 577,000 viewers.

Top Ten Most-Watched Regular Season College Basketball Games of the 2013-14 Season

    Vwr (mil) HH 18-49 Time Net

1

MCBB: Duke @ Syracuse

4.745

2.9

1.6

2/1 6:30 PM

ESPN

2

Big Ten Championship:
Michigan State v. Michigan

4.525

2.7

 

3/16 3:30 PM

CBS

3

MCBB: Syracuse @ Duke

4.159

2.4

1.3

2/22 7:00 PM

ESPN

4

MCBB: Michigan State v. Kentucky

4.002

2.6

1.4

11/12 7:30 PM

ESPN

5

MCBB: North Carolina @ Duke

3.498

2.1

1.2

3/8 9:00 PM

ESPN

6

MCBB: Louisville @ Kentucky

3.246

2.0

 

12/28 4:23 PM

CBS

7

ACC Championship: Virginia v. Duke

3.168

2.2

1.0

3/16 1:00 PM

ESPN

8

Big Ten Semifinal:
Michigan State v. Wisconsin

3.161

1.9

 

3/15 4:15 PM

CBS

9

SEC Championship: Florida v. Kentucky

2.99

2.0

0.9

3/16 3:15 PM

ESPN

10

MCBB: Kansas v. Duke

2.977

2.1

1.3

11/12 10:19 PM

ESPN

Read More »

The Other Threat to Net Neutrality

The issue of net neutrality flared up again earlier this week when, after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler introduced a new “hybrid” franken-proposal that ignored all the reasons why so many millions of comments supported Title II reclassification by only putting half the market (a half that had never been seen as a separate market before) under that bracket of telecommunications law, leaving everyone unhappy in the process, and the same day net neutrality supporters rallied in front of Wheeler’s house, President Obama came out swinging, not only staunchly defending Title II reclassification but laying out several specific principles he’d like to see in any net neutrality plan. Combined with the public smearing Sen. Ted Cruz received after comparing net neutrality to Obamacare, it’s become apparent that this will end with the Internet being reclassified under Title II, or strong, litigation-proof net neutrality protections being installed in some other way, no matter how long it takes. The masses of the Internet will not let it end any other way.

But if you think the broadband companies are going to stop fighting to tear down net neutrality, or that simply codifying it in law will prevent them from undermining it in other ways such as Comcast’s interconnection blackmail of Netflix, you’re mistaken. There’s something else the FCC is doing, far more under the radar, that is just as much a threat to the ideal of net neutrality than their explicit Open Internet rules – maybe a bigger one, because it could completely undermine the ability to maintain net neutrality in the long term. That would be the broadcast incentive auctions recently postponed to early 2016. Read More »

Sports Ratings Report for October 27-November 2 and Weekend Sports Ratings for November 8-9

Vwrs
(000)

Change

Lst Wk Lst Yr

#1

=

=

5062

+65%

+113%

#2

+1

=

1014

+81%

+7%

#3

-1

=

595

-2%

-1%

#4

=

=

283

+17%

+20%

#5

+1

=

110

+24%

-39%

#6

+1

+2

95

+32%

+3%

#7

-2

-1

81

-49%

-21%

#8

=

-1

60

+9%

-39%

#9

=

=

59

+11%

-8%

#10

=

=

35

+84%

+17%

Vwrs
(000)

Change

Lst Wk Lst Yr

#1

=

=

1710

+42%

+45%

#2

=

=

331

+3%

+2%

#3

=

=

289

+38%

+2%

#4

=

+2

121

-16%

+44%

#5

=

-1

113

-17%

-34%

#6

=

+2

76

-12%

+3%

#7

+1

=

66

+29%

-13%

#8

+1

+1

58

+21%

-11%

#9

-2

-4

55

+4%

-38%

#10

=

=

31

0%

0%

All right, so I’m trying out a new split-chart system. The table on the left has the primetime numbers, the table on the right the total day numbers. I hope there aren’t people with screen resolutions small enough that the tables run into each other (or for that matter, that they wouldn’t run into each other if I had an app pinned to the side on my Surface that doesn’t work), and as is I may have to start writing longer analyses to fill the height of the table in order to avoid wonkiness on the main blog page and big gaps on the post itself.

The year-by-year comparisons suggest that the MLB Postseason is resulting in some continuing lift for Fox Sports 1. (We’ll see what happens in a week without the World Series on Fox luring people to the channel, but the Series resulted in very little lift to FSL’s postgame shows. On the other hand, FSL seems to have seen very little continuing aftereffect from the postseason in general, suggesting its current format is not clicking with audiences any more than it was a year ago.) It’s disappointing that a big Baylor-Oklahoma game couldn’t beat a substantially less-big SEC game on ESPN this past weekend, but FS1 should take some heart that it did as well as it did, topping two million viewers in a noon time slot and beating all but one nationally televised game in the time slot.

This week, with-locals numbers for MNF and TNF; next week, the return of the charts with numbers from SportsBusiness Daily!

Click here to learn more about how to read the charts. Click here to see the charts.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 10

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that even with the bit about the early flexes, this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it still says late games start at 4:15 ET instead of 4:25):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 5
  • In effect during Weeks 5-17
  • Up to 2 games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Weeks 5-10
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks starting Week 11, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 in 2006 and 2011, because NBC hosted Christmas night games those years and all the other games were moved to Saturday (and so couldn’t be flexed), but are otherwise protected after Week 5. As I understand it, during the Week 5-10 period the NFL and NBC declare their intention to flex out a game two weeks in advance, at which point CBS and Fox pick one game each to protect.
  • In the past, three teams could appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. I don’t know how the expansion of the Thursday Night schedule affects this, if it does. No team starts the season completely tapped out at any measure; ten teams have five primetime appearances each, but only the Packers, Bears, 49ers, Steelers, and Saints don’t have games in the main flex period, and all have games in the early flex period. I don’t know if both of the games scheduled for 12/20 count towards the total, or only the one in primetime. A list of all teams’ number of appearances is in my Week 5 post.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 11 (November 16):

  • Selected game: New England @ Indianapolis.

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Selected game: Dallas @ NY Giants.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Tentative game: Denver @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 7-2 v. 6-3. Suddenly looking like a much more interesting game than it was looking like for much of the season, now pitting the top two teams in the division a game apart.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Packers (CBS) and Saints-Steelers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games, especially with Eagles-Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Chargers-Ravens and Browns-Bills are the only options, and neither one is all that impressive.
  • Analysis: The best either of these games could do is even with the tentative. Combine the tentative game bias with the playoff implications and name teams of the tentative compared to the uninspiring alternatives, and…
  • Final prediction: Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (no change).

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 7-2 v. 5-4. Starting to look a mite lopsided, but should still be reasonably safe for now.
  • Protected games: Steelers-Bengals (CBS) and Seahawks-Eagles (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Colts-Browns, Ravens-Dolphins, Chiefs-Cardinals, and Bills-Broncos are all options, but none of those are particularly appealing. Chiefs-Cardinals might be the most interesting, if not necessarily best, game.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 7-2 and an NFC East showdown. If form holds, this game has a mortal lock on this spot.
  • Protected games: Broncos-Chargers (CBS) and 49ers-Seahawks (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Packers-Bills, Bengals-Browns, and Dolphins-Patriots are all options, but they would require an absolute collapse by one or both tentative teams and that still might not be enough (as many Cowboys games past have shown).

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 6-3 v. 8-1 is a bit lopsided, but it’s still the top two teams in the division, and what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers is the only game involving two teams over .500. That’s not overcoming the tentative game bias.

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
NORTH
46-3
56-3
5-3-1
SOUTH
36-3
65-3-1
4-5
WEST
27-2
5-4
6-3 5-4
EAST
17-2
5-4
2 tied at 5-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
SOUTH
44-5
57-3
3-6-1
EAST
37-2
66-3
7-3
NORTH
27-2
6-3
6-3 5-4
WEST
18-1
6-6
6-3
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Browns-Ravens, Lions-Packers, Chargers-Chiefs, Bills-Patriots, Bengals-Steelers, Cardinals-49ers.

Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 12 Picks

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 3-6. Pretty lopsided, but the Cowboys being flexed out of SNF would probably be a harbinger of the apocalypse, especially when they’re not the ones dragging it down.
  • Protected games: Dolphins-Broncos (CBS).
  • Other possible games mentioned on Tuesday’s Watch and their records: Lions (7-2)-Patriots (7-2), Cardinals (8-1)-Seahawks (6-3).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: None.
  • Analysis: Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if ANY of these three games ends up the Sunday night game; Lions-Patriots has the best combination of name value and good records, but in terms of pure quality isn’t really that far ahead of Cardinals-Seahawks, and I continue to maintain that it’s the best candidate for a crossflex to CBS. On the other hand, NBC is already slated to air the other half of Seahawks-Cardinals, which does matter, and while I got a lot of comments on my last post that seemed to agree only that this game WOULD be flexed out, only disagreeing on which game it would be flexed out for, anyone who thinks NBC wouldn’t want (or the NFL wouldn’t want them to have) a name team well below .500 when the Cowboys are involved doesn’t know their history. This is probably the closest scenario there is to a situation where the Cowboys would be flexed out, but while that means I wouldn’t be surprised if the game gets flexed out, it doesn’t make it particularly likely.
  • Final prediction: Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants (no change) (Lions-Patriots if there’s a flex).

Sports Ratings Report for Week of October 20-26 and Weekend Sports Ratings for November 1-2

Primetime Vwrs

Total Day Vwrs

(000) LW/LY (000) LW/LY

3074

=

+13%

1207

=

+3%

#1

=

+1%

#1

=

-7%

606

+2

+74%

321

+1

+18%

#2

+1

-17%

#2

=

+4%

559

=

+10%

209

+1

-2%

#3

-1

-27%

#3

=

-13%

241

-2

-86%

144

-2

-69%

#4

=

+36%

#4

+1

+31%

72

+1

-6%

136

=

-11%

#6

+2

-13%

#5

-1

-12%

160

=

+24%

86

+1

+18%

#5

=

+63%

#6

=

+6%

55

+2

-11%

53

+1

-13%

#7

-1

-41%

#7

=

-29%

53

-1

-31%

48

+1

-17%

#8

-1

-38%

#8

=

-21%

42

-3

-54%

31

-3

-61%

#9

+1

+27%

#9

+1

-23%

19

=

-55%

31

+1

0%

#10

-1

-55%

#9

=

-33%

Why is this week’s primetime/total-day viewership chart the same as last week’s? Because no thanks to Time Warner Cable’s fantabulous “customer service”, I don’t actually have Internet of my own at the moment and so can’t concentrate for long enough to work on my newest idea for how to organize them. These numbers are for the week of October 20-26. Click here to learn more about how to read the charts. Read More »