NFL Ratings Run Wild on Wild Card Weekend

While not every team could get a win on Wild Card Weekend, the networks consistently came out on top with increased ratings across the board. The NFL’s most-viewed regular season since 1990 carried straight into the first playoff weekend, with the Dallas Cowboys’ win earning NBC the best overnight for a Saturday wild-card game in a decade and the Baltimore Raven’s Sunday victory giving CBS its highest-rated AFC Wild Card matchup since 2006.

NBC, CBS Are Winners
The Dallas Cowboys Wild Card playoff victory on NBC Saturday night drew a 19.6 overnight rating, translating to 19.6% of TV households in 56 urban markets, making it the best overnight for a Saturday Wild Card game in a decade. The New York Jets’ 24-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the early game was also the best Saturday Wild Card Game 1 overnight rating since the 1999 season.

The Baltimore Ravens’ defeat of the New England Patriots on Sunday scored a ratings victory for CBS, bringing the network an average overnight household rating/share of 19.4/38, up 14% from an overnight rating/share of 17.0/35 for last year’s AFC Wild Card game on CBS. The Baltimore-New England game rating/share peaked with a 22.6/42.

The game was CBS’s highest-rated AFC Wild Card game in the metered markets since 2006 when Pittsburgh at Cincinnati earned a rating/share of 19.9/34 (4:30-7:45 PM, ET).

Post-Game Pickup for SNY
After the Jets’ win, SNY established a new ratings benchmark for the network’s Jets post-game coverage. SNY’s Jets Post Game Live show averaged more than 128,000 total viewers (0.93 household rating) at 7:30-8:45 p.m. This was the highest-rated Jets Post Game Live show ever on SNY (besting the 0.85 household rating of Sept. 28, 2008, according to Nielsen Media Research).

AFC Viewership Best in 23 Years
CBS scored big with its regular-season coverage of AFC games during the 2009 season. The network averaged 17.2 million viewers, the highest number of average viewers for any network’s coverage of the AFC in 23 years. The 17.2 million viewers was also an increase of 6% from last year’s 16.2 million viewers. Overall for the network’s 2009-10 NFL season coverage, the NFL on CBS earned an average national household rating/share of 10.4/22, up 4% from last year’s 10.0/21.

BCS Brings in Viewers
The Citi BCS Championship Game on ABC — Alabama’s 37-21 victory over Texas, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA — was the most-viewed BCS title game since 2006, the last time ABC broadcast the contest (Texas vs. USC, January 2006, also at the Rose Bowl). An average of 19,730,000 households tuned in, for a 17.2 rating. Both numbers represent an increase of 9% over last year’s Oklahoma-Florida matchup (18,117,000 homes, 15.8 rating).  The increase in viewers was 15%, from 26,778,000 people to 30,776,000.

The game generated ABC’s biggest Thursday-night audience since Oct. 26, 1995, and the biggest audience for any television network in nearly a year, since ABC’s presentation of the Academy Awards on Feb. 22, 2009.