Whether it was due in large part by the hype, or whether it proved the hype was justified is a matter of opinion, but there is no debating that Tom Brady and the Patriots versus Tim Tebow and the Broncos was a huge commercial success. The Patriots 41-23 victory at Denver drew a 19.5 rating, which is the highest CBS rating since the Pats played the Colts in their 2007 rematch of the previous season’s conference championship game. Locally the game drew an incredible 42.6 rating and 68% of the household markets – the third highest local rating in franchise history for a regular season game. The only games to have ever drawn a higher share were in week 17 of the 2007 season, and the Miami snow game in 2003 when Tedy Bruschi famously intercepted a pass late in the game for a game-clinching touchdown.
As for this week, there’s not much of any carryover for either team. The Pats game against Miami will be aired in just two neutral markets: Tallahassee, Florida and Albany, Georgia. The only other stations broadcasting the game are the three that show all Dolphins games (Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, Florida) and the eight that comprise the Patriots’ television network – Boston, Springfield, Providence, Hartford, Burlington Vermont, and the three CBS stations in Maine. Meanwhile the appeal of Tim Tebow doesn’t carry over to northern New York; the Bills did not sell out and that game will be blacked out there. To see what games are on in your area, check out J.P. Kirby’s maps.
The NFL extending the contracts of NBC, CBS and Fox is relatively old news; that was announced shortly after the new CBA was agreed upon. One thing that was initially overlooked was that NBC would acquire ‘enhanced’ flex scheduling. My first thought was that this would mean they would be able to pick any non-protected game they chose to, as long as it did not put a team over the maximum number of times they could be on in primetime; however, that is not the case. The biggest change is that flex scheduling will now commence in week five rather than in week ten. The only downside that I see is that CBS and Fox still have to make their choices of what games to protect far too early in my opinion – on Tuesday following week four. To me a better system would be to have it rolling throughout the season – seven days prior to the NFL’s deadline to flex a game, for example – or, as an alternative, allow them the ability to change what games are protected as the season unfolds.
Another change is that NBC is now allowed to have an additional allotment of time broadcasting highlights, and a Sunday morning pre-game show. Thus far I have been enjoying the NFL shows on Versus – NFL Turning Point and NBC Sports Talk – if for no other reason than they offer me an alternative. If you think espn and the NFL Network seem similar, there is a good reason why: their chief executives are all former executives at espn. President and CEO Steve Bornstein was the chairman at the world wide leader, while Howard Katz and Judy Fearing were both senior vice-presidents there. Competition is a good thing; too much in-breeding is not.
One thing that the folks at NBC could do to help the new ‘NBC Sports Channel’, as Versus will now be known as, would be to lobby various cable companies for some preferential placement of their channel within those cable systems. For example where I am it is very easy to find them among the non-high def channels; they’re right next to espn. But among the high def channels? Good luck. Granted my service provider lumps all the sports-oriented channels together, but it is as if they put that together when Versus was still OLN. They are dozens of channels away, amidst a smorgasbord of networks I don’t think anybody is even aware of, much less watches; in my case they are sandwiched in between the Extreme Fishing Network and the Golf Channel, about fourteen channels away from every flavor of espn you could imagine. For the new NBC Sports channel to succeed it needs to be right next to espn and the NFLN on the channel lineup; if not, it’s the equivalent of the difference in a product being placed on the bottom shelf at the supermarket and being at eye-level in the most-traveled aisle.
While on the subject of television, did anybody catch the St. Petersburg Bowl? About the only thing I came away from that besides the fact that both Florida International University and Marshall are very mediocre was that St. Petersburg is capable of producing just as many empty seats for football games as they can for baseball games at Tropicana Field.
So what’s next for the NFL and television? Well, if you’ve ever flown Jet Blue then you’re familiar with DirecTV on their flights. How about getting the Sunday Ticket in your car?
10-4 Texans at 1-13 Colts
Houston -7; over 40
T.J. Yates has been struggling, but the Colts defense is just what the doctor ordered. The Colts rank 30th in points allowed (28.2), 28th in yards per pass attempt (7.9), and are dead last with opponents completing a whopping 71.4% of their passes against them.
Texans 27, Colts 13
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