Ratings Roundup: NFL Network Scores Record Thursday Debut; Peyton Drives ESPN to Big Monday Night

Compiled by Jason Dachman, Managing Editor, SVG

NFL Network’s expanded Thursday Night Football package got off to a strong start last week, posting a 5.3 U.S. rating and 8.559 million viewers, marking the fourth-largest audience ever for live NFL coverage on the network. That ranks as the highest rated and most viewed opener ever for NFL Network and is up 61% in rating and 62% in viewership over last year’s Raiders-Chargers premier in Week 10 (33, 5.28 million).

Peyton Manning led ESPN to rebound in week 2 of Monday Night Football, as the Broncos-Falcons matchup earned a 10.0 US rating (11.6 household rating) and 15.514 million viewers (11.41 million households). MNF won the night and posted the fourth largest audience among viewers (third among households) for any program on cable television in 2012. In Denver, the game delivered a 18.9 rating on ESPN and a 21.4 rating on KTVD-IND, for a combined 40.3 in the market. In Atlanta, the game delivered a 12.5 rating on ESPN and a 16.3 rating on WSB-ABC, for a combined 28.8 in the market. Through the first two weeks of the NFL season (three games), ESPN’s MNF is averaging a 9.3 rating (8.1 US), 9,138,000 households and 12,410,000 viewers, virtually even with last season.

NBC’s Lions-49ers “Sunday Night Football” coverage delivered the No. 1 rating of the week in adults 18-49 and total viewers, drawing a 12.9 final rating and 21.334 million viewers on NBC, down 10% in ratings and 9% in viewership from Eagles/Falcons last year (14.3, 23.424M). The game ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed Week 2 edition of “SNF” since Steelers/Browns in 2008 (10.8, 17.834M). With that said, the game also ranks as the fourth-most viewed Week 2 game in primetime since the 1999-2000 season.

As for the Sunday day games, the Week 2 NFL singleheader window on Fox (featuring Cowboys-Seahawks in 26% of markets) earned a 13.3 overnight rating on FOX Sunday afternoon — down 2% from coverage featuring Bears/Saints last year (13.6). Sunday’s telecast finished not far behind the NFL national window on CBS, which featured Jets-Steelers in 82% of markets, earned a 14.4 overnight rating on CBS Sunday afternoon — down 5% from coverage featuring Chargers/Patriots last year (15.1). The 14.4 is the lowest for the Week 2 national window since 2007, when coverage featuring Chiefs/Bears drew an 11.5…

…ESPN and ABC combined to televise the top two most-viewed college football games of the week last Saturday, according to the World Wide Leader. ESPN led the way with 5.076 million total viewers for Florida’s victory over Tennessee. The ABC Saturday Night Football broadcast – a Notre Dame win over Michigan State – was the week’s second most-viewed game, averaging 4.977 million viewers. In addition, ESPNU’s coverage of Pittsburgh’s upset over Virginia Tech was ESPNU’s most-viewed college football game in the noon window, averaging 679,000 viewers. So far this season ESPN2 is averaging 1.437 million viewers for an increase of 10% (vs. 1.301 million) while ESPNU is averaging 511,000 viewers, up 2% (vs. 500,000)…

…The premier of Fox’s new behind-the-scenes series BEING: LIVERPOOL on Sunday delivered a strong 1.1/2 household rating/share, with an average audience of 1.6 million viewers on Sunday afternoon (9/16), up 10% compared to last year’s 1.0/2 for a same-day encore airing of a Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea.  The audience for BEING: LIVERPOOL peaked at 2.5 million in the 4:30-5:00 PM ET half-hour.  Several local markets posted ratings twice the national average or better for the FOX premiere of BEING: LIVERPOOL…

…Showtime’s “Knockout Kings” scored record ratings for its headlining fight between Canelo Alvarez and Josesito Lopez with over one million viewers and the second-highest rating for a boxing telecast on the premium network since 2007. Saturday’s main event bout between Canelo and Lopez attracted over one million viewers (1.04 million) for the live telecast, surpassing the 2010 Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins event as the highest viewership for a bout on SHOWTIME since the network began tracking boxing viewership. Canelo vs. Lopez drew the largest Hispanic audience for an individual bout on SHOWTIME since 2009. Saturday’s average viewership ranked as the highest SHOWTIME boxing telecast of the year, and the second-highest average viewership on the network since 2007…

…The NASCAR Sprint Cup Geico 400 from Chicago, the first race in the Chase For the Cup, earned a 2.6 U.S. rating and 3.949 million viewers on ESPN Sunday afternoon up against NFL competition — up 13% in ratings and 7% in viewership from the Chase opener in 2010, the Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire (2.3, 3.677M). Last year’s Geico 400 was postponed due to rain. The 2010 edition of the race, which aired in July on TNT, earned a 2.8 and 4.608 million viewers. Though the telecast ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed edition of NASCAR from Chicago (dates back to 2001), Sunday’s race ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed Chase For the Cup opener since the 2009 Sylvania 300 on broadcast network ABC (3.2, 5.044M).