CBS, FOX, NBC Stage War of Words for NFL Ratings Supremacy
The linguistic footwork exhibited by FOX, NBC and CBS to proclaim ratings superiority can be as deft as Andre Johnson trying to get two feet down on a sideline route, albeit a lot less fascinating. All three networks are claiming some piece of the Nielsen ratings crown for this season -- a year where football viewership is as high as it's been in recent memory.
And the NFL, meanwhile, crows about its dominance over the entire field of television, noting that its games occupy the top 15 slots of most watched programs of the television season. Last Thursday's Atlanta-Baltimore game, airing on the NFL Network, beat out the Boston-Miami NBA game on TNT, despite the fact that the NFL Network is available in far fewer homes than TNT.
In a four-page press release, NBC laid out that last Sunday's New England-Pittsburgh game was not only the number one prime-time show on Sunday night -- extending that streak to 10 straight weeks -- but was also the most watched and highest rated prime-time show for the week. NBC also boasts that its Sunday night package is the No.1 show in prime time for all the key adult and male demographic groups, namely among adults aged 18-34 and 25-54, as well as men aged 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
Meanwhile, FOX took direct aim at NBC on a number of fronts. FOX's single-page release claimed that the Dallas-New York Giants game, the feature contest in the late Sunday afternoon window this week, was the highest rated and most watched show on all of television last week, with about 5 million more viewers than the Steelers-Patriots game, winning all of the key demographic categories as well. In addition, FOX has gone after NBC's billing of the Sunday night contest as "America's Game," by calling its telecast "America's Game of the Week."
FOX mocks NBC's pregame show, by noting that its "The OT," beat "Football Night in America," by 169 percent in ratings, though, to be fair, the comparison is apples and oranges, since FOX is delivering to "The OT" an audience fresh from a football game, while NBC is building to a game with no football lead-in.
Finally, CBS takes the big picture view that, on a cumulative basis, more people watch NFL games on its network than on any of the other carriers. Through Nielsen, CBS says that an estimated 134.9 million viewers watch games there, as opposed to 126.3 million on NBC, 127.3 million on FOX and 92.8 million on ESPN for Monday night. Though, when it comes to ESPN, the comparison is skewed because, as a cable channel, ESPN is available in fewer homes than CBS.