Ratings Roundup: NFL Week 1 Windows Down Slightly; US Open Makes Comeback on CBS

Although the ratings dip was minimal, six of the seven NFL telecast windows during Week 1 were down from last year, including all three Sunday afternoon windows on CBS and Fox and both Monday Night Football games on ESPN.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader was down slightly from last season, but the opening game’s audience was still large enough to mark ESPN’s second-best opening “MNF” telecast since it acquired rights prior to the 2006 season. The doubleheader notched a combined 8.2 U.S. Nielsen rating and 13.0 million viewers, down 5% in both rating and viewership from last year’s opening doubleheader (8.6 rating, 13.6 million viewers). Nonetheless, the two games were the highest-rated programs for the night on any network.

In the early window, Patriots-Dolphins earned a 9.1 rating and 14.6 million viewers, down 3% in both categories compared to Ravens-Jets last year, but still the second highest MNF ever on ESPN. In the late window, Raiders-Broncos earned a 7.1 rating and 11.1 million viewers, down 7% in both metrics compared to Chargers-Chiefs last year.

CBS’s singleheader on Sunday afternoon, featuring Ravens/Steelers, drew a 9.1 final rating and 15.496 million viewers — down 6% in ratings and 4% in viewership from last year (Bengals-Patriots: 9.7, 16.175M).

Fox’s Week 1 NFL national window, featuring Giants/Washington in 63% of markets, earned a 15.3 final rating and 25.802 million viewers on FOX Sunday afternoon — down 7% in ratings and 8% in viewership from last year (Packers-Eagles: 16.5, 28.023M). Earlier in the day, regional coverage featuring Eagles/Rams in 46% of markets drew an 8.0 and 13.044 million viewers, down 1% in ratings and 0.3% in viewership compared to last year (Panthers-Giants: 8.1, 13.086M)…

…CBS Sports’ 2011 US Open coverage saw a sizeable increase from last year, as the network’s coverage was watched in all-or-part by 51.3 million viewers (Persons 2+), a 17% increase from last year’s 44.0 million. The 51.3 million viewership total is based upon Persons 2+ watching at-least six minutes of the Network’s coverage…

ESPN earned a 4.5 U.S. rating and 7.541 million viewers for Notre Dame-Michigan on Saturday, up 7% in ratings and 6% in viewership from last year (Penn State-Alabama: 4.2, 7.124M). Michigan’s win ranks as the second-most viewed college football game of the young season, behind only Oregon-LSU in Week 1 (7.751M, ABC). Last year’s game between Notre Dame and Michigan, which aired on NBC in the afternoon, drew a 4.5 and 6.973 million viewers. The game saw a massive jump from Notre Dame’s opener against South Florida, which drew a 2.1 final rating and 3.249 million viewers on NBC, and was suffered a lengthy delay due to weather.

…In other college football news, ABC has seen early success through two weeks of its college football coverage as last Saturday’s Alabama/Penn State college football game drew a 3.9 final rating and 6.083 million viewers, up 63% in ratings and 59% in viewership from regional action last year (2.4, 3.838 million). In addition, ABC’s Saturday Night Football opener on Sept. 3, pitting Oregon against LSU, earned a 4.6 final rating and 7.751 million viewers on ABC — up 70% in ratings and 80% in viewership from last year (LSU/UNC: 2.7, 4.302M)…

…MMA promotion Bellator Fighting Championships drew 235,000 viewers for its first event of the fall season on MTV2 on Sept. 10. That is up 18% from the Season 4 average of 204,000 viewers.

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