According to Dan Masonsen of the NFL, last night’s game got the highest ratings ever for a NFL Network Thursday night broadcast at a 6.3 overnight, surpassing last year’s Harbaugh Bowl on Thanksgiving night.
This result stands in contrast to the Monday Night results for ESPN, which were at their lowest for the early time slot game, where Cincinnati-Baltimore drew a 8.1, compared to 10.3 for New England/Miami in 2011 and 10.5 for Baltimore/New York Jets in 2010.
Is this a positive sign, or just an indication that if your goal is to brag about week 1 relative rankings, you better have Chicago, Green Bay, New York, or New England in the game, and not Cincinnati? As noted in that Sports Media Watch article, the previous ESPN Monday Night opener low was also a Baltimore vs. Cincinnati game in 2007. Add in that it became a blowout by the late third quarter, after a full weekend of football and with one more game remaining, and those who were watching collectively took a break.
I think it still is encouraging for the NFL Network as they continue to battle with some cable carriers that they garnered a record number by also moving their Thursday night schedule up to early in the season. Every team has hope then, there are no perceived bad matchups yet. This first game, though, had two of the eight biggest ratings draws and the teams that the various networks fight over. The NFL certainly stacked the deck so that they could get these headlines. Next week, they have the Giants. We’ll see how much bump there is early in the season when we compare Cleveland-Baltimore in week 4, and Arizona-St. Louis in week 5.
[photo via US Presswire]