Ratings Roundup: Cowboys-Giants Delivers Highest SNF Rating Ever for NBC

Sunday’s showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants was billed as a de facto playoff game, and it delivered as much in the ratings. The game delivered a 17.1 overnight rating, the highest g in the six-year history of Sunday Night Football on NBC and the best overnight for any NFL primetime Sunday or Monday game in 13 years (Broncos-Dolphins, 17.4/27, Dec. 21, 1998 on ABC). The Giants’ NFC East-Clinching victory over the Cowboys also posted the best overnight rating for an NFL primetime regular-season finale in 17 years (49ers-Vikings, 19.6/33, Dec. 26, 1994 on ABC)…

…For the sixth straight year, ESPN’s Monday Night Football ranked as the most-watched series on cable television, drawing 14 of the calendar year’s 20 biggest cable household audiences, and 13 of the top 20 among viewers. ESPN’s 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2011 averaged a 9.7 rating (8.4 US rating), representing an average of 9,589,000 households (13,252,000 viewers – P2+), according to Nielsen. In six seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered eight of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. (only two 2011 Bowl Championship Series college football games on ESPN rank higher)…

…After an extended absence, the NBA put up big numbers to open the season on Christmas Day, as two of ABC’s games ranked among the five most viewed NBA regular season telecasts in the past decade. The Heat/Mavericks matchup earned a 4.9 final rating and 9.023 million viewers on ABC, making it the fifth-most viewed NBA regular season game over the past 10 seasons. Later in the day, Bulls/Lakers drew a 5.6 final rating and 11.014 million viewers, ranked as the third-most viewed NBA regular season game over the past decade…

…The blitzkrieg of offense that was the Valero Alamo Bowl generated one of the biggest overnights in the 19-year history of the bowl, posting a 4.5 overnight rating on ESPN last Thursday. Baylor’s ping-pong-style 67-56 victory over Washington was up 50% over the bowl’s 2010 ratings for Oklahoma State’s victory over Arizona. The game built on strong ratings developed from its lead-in game, the Notre Dame-Florida State Champs Sports Bowl, which earned a 3.6 rating – up 64% from last season…

…In other Bowl rating news, the TCU/Louisiana Tech Poinsettia Bowl earned 3.106 million viewers on ESPN on Dec. 21, making it the least-viewed edition of the Poinsettia Bowl since 2007 (Utah-Navy: 2.352M). The Boise State-Arizona State MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22 logged a 2.4 rating and 3.137 million viewers on ESPN, down 36% in ratings and 42% in viewership from last year (Boise State-Utah: 3.3, 5.360M)…

…NESN’s Bruins has flourished in the ratings game thus far, posting its three best all-time regular season household game ratings in November and December. In addition, NESN has notched 16 of its 20 best all-time Bruins ratings in the past two months alone. Currently NESN’s household average rating is at 5.0, up 85% over last season after the same number of games (31). The top three ratings are as follows: 8.4 at Buffalo on Nov. 23, 7.7 hosting Montreal on Dec. 19, and 6.9 at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.

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