NFL Conference Championship Ratings Down

The ratings for the NFL Conference Championship games are slightly down compared to last year, which is a bit surprising considering three of the four teams are the same. The NFL Championship between the 49ers and Falcons averaged 1.8 million viewers (all data BBM 2+ AMA), which probably would have been a lot worse if not for the 49ers improbable comeback. That is down 200, 000 from the comparable 3pm ET game last year and about half a million less than the 49ers NFC Championship game against the Giants last year, which was in primetime. The AFC Championship re-match drew an average of 2 million viewers. That’s even with what last year’s game, which was broadcast 3 hours earlier, drew.

While there wasn’t a ton of hockey on Sunday, the Flames, Oilers and Canucks all went head-to-head with NFL, the buzz surrounding the return of it, and the free preview of Centre Ice, could have impacted ratings slightly. No particular way of proving the impact of a Centre Ice free preview (which essentially makes every game nationally televised) though. The impact of Sportsnet’s games is possible to measure. An average of 296, 000 watched Flames @ Sharks on Sportsnet West while an average of about a million watched Oilers @ Canucks on Sportsnet West or Pacific. No Canadian NHL games went head-to-head with the NFL Conference Championships last year. FOX/Global sitcoms were in repeats. ABC had new episodes, but I don’t think the audiences for Once Upon a Time and Revenge conflict too much with football fans.

The downturn in ratings is actually a bit of a trend. In 2011 the Conference Championships averaged 2.1 million viewers, In 2010 the Conference Championships averaged 2.5 million viewers. Last year’s games averaged 2.2 million. This year’s averaged 1.9. The a steady decrease, save for 2011. An average of 600, 000 viewers is no small difference. It’s a bit surprising as well, considering Super Bowl ratings never seem to drop (the last three were all record setters). I’m interested to see if a lack of big market teams will hurt this year’s Super Bowl compared to the past two years.

Perspective is important too, of course. The two NFL games were the second and third most watched sports broadcasts on TV over the weekend, only behind the Leafs @ Canadiens game. I know some people will moan about me comparing them with the CFL for whatever reason, but those two games averaged 1.6 million viewers, slightly less than the NFL games. It is worth pointing out that they aired on TSN and were played 2 hours earlier than the comparable NFL games. And they were played in November, if that makes a difference to anyone (apparently it does).

Where’s the Trophy?… CTV cut away from the AFC Championship Game at the commercial break before the trophy presentation to show a new episode of Anger Management, which was followed by a repeat of Anger Management. They should have waited 15 minutes. Not only did they miss the trophy presentation, but they also missed ex-player O.J. Brigance, who is in a wheelchair and can’t speak due to ALS, celebrating and delivering a message to the Ravens. Brigance also has a Canadian connection, he won a Grey Cup for the Baltimore Stallions. In fact he is the only player to win a Super Bowl and a Grey Cup in the same city.

Five-0… The only people more mystified than Ravens fans watching CTV were probably Hawaii 5-0 viewers tuning into Global. They were supposed to broadcast the show at 10:00pm ET. However, since the CBS football broadcast went long, Global decided to air promo after promo instead, for a full 10+ minutes. The joke’s on them though as Global Toronto started showing 5-0 before CBS did and couldn’t even get the simsub on their sister company Shaw Direct. The same situation will probably happen in two weeks when Elementary, which airs on Global in Canada, follows the Super Bowl on CBS.

Super Bowl Day… CBS have unveiled their programming for Super Bowl Sunday. Coverage begins at 11:00am ET, which I think is the earliest ever, with “The Road to the Super Bowl”. That’s followed by a documentary on New Orleans and some Phil Simms filler special. The four-hour Super Bowl Today airs from 2-6pm ET. “The Road to the Super Bowl” is the only bit of that programming that I find interesting. CBS will also air a special episode of Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson from New Orleans around 11:35pm local. Guests include Drew Brees, Neil Patrick Harris and Steve Carell. Can’t go wrong with that.

More NHL Ratings… Last night an average of 1.1 million viewers watched the Leafs home opener against Buffalo on Sportsnet Ontario, while an average of 308, 000 watched the Senators home opener against Florida on Sportsnet East.

Lance… BBM reports that average of 715, 000 viewers watched Oprah interview Lance Armstrong Thursday night. I have not seen ratings for Friday, but that’s very impressive. I didn’t even know 3/4 of a million people subscribed to Oprah’s channel.

Mante… Katie Couric will interview Mante Te’o on her talk show Thursday afternoon, ensuring that none of her regulars viewers are interested, while people who will never watch her show again will tune-in. This interview should have aired in primetime somewhere, but I’m guessing it was strategically planned not to. Apparently Citytv has rights to Katie in Canada, where it will air at 4 Eastern/Pacific.

Canada’s Figure Skating Network… I don’t really watch figure skating, but CTV’s coverage of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships is one of the great traditions in Canadian sports broadcasting. Brian Williams was at the helm of CTV and TSN’s coverage over the weekend. He has disappeared a bit since the Olympics ended in August. Also, TSN needs to get those graphics on more broadcasts than just figure skating and the Grey Cup.

15 thoughts on “NFL Conference Championship Ratings Down

  1. We are not getting the Centre Ice Package free, here in Quebec with Videotron.

  2. My girlfriend likes Revenge and Once Upon a Time (ugh, it’s seriously the worst show on TV right now) and is a huge Packers fan!

  3. Super Bowl’s entertainment attributes have taken over the football aspect given that we get as much hype about the commercials and the half time show as the game. And ratings peak when? Not towards the end of the game even if it is close but during half time.

    Grey Cup in November factor is important to consider given that day has been the most watched television day in Canada in recent years. In large part to the Grey Cup but also because there are big attractions like a music award show, Santa Claus parade along with hockey, basketball games and fresh prime time programming.

    • But, CTV doesn’t show the ads everybody wants to watch. And the only people included in the Canadian ratings are those watching CTV. Yes some will get confused and watch anyway, but nobody’s really watching CTV for the Canadian Tire commercials. As far as peak ratings, the Grey Cup also peaked at halftime in 2012.

      The things that went head-to-head with the Grey Cup that had audiences over 1 million in 2012 were Amazing Race, Once Upon a Time and The Mentalist, all on CTV (and the Mentalist only conflicted with the last 15 minutes). There were no music awards shows or hockey or even hoops on TV that night. And the parade was certainly a different day since the Grey Cup was in Toronto.

      New primetime programming is a factor (which is why the Grey Cup airs on TSN, not CTV), but the rest isn’t really.

      • Which games had less viewers? The NFL playoff games or the CFL playoff games (or was it the Grey Cup). You were a bit confusing. Or is it my dementia acting up. LOL!

        • CFL and NFL playoff ratings are both down compared to previous years, if that’s what you’re asking. Super Bowl beats Grey Cup and NFL playoffs usually (but not always) beat CFL playoffs.

          • I know that we have been around this buoy before, but I think the NFL has an advantage being on the main network vice being on a cable only. I know that you insist that is not the case but I would think that it would only improve CFL numbers if the playoffs and Grey cup were on the main network.
            Just my two cents.

            • I’m not saying there’s no advantage, but I think it is overstated many times. TSN is on basic cable in much of the country (and the basic package on both satellite providers). The one year that TSN had the Grey Cup under the old ratings system it had 3.65 million viewers. It had 3.54 on CBC the year before and was just over 4 million the 3 years before that (all 5 years include RDS numbers as well, to account for Alouettes). So I think it would be fair to argue that maybe the CFL would get a 10% increase if it was on free TV.

              Even accounting for that:
              2011 Grey Cup: 6 million
              2012 Super Bowl: 8.1 million
              2012 Grey Cup: 6.4 million

              Just saying

      • 2012 was the first time Grey Cup audience peaked at half time as it seems like they might be going with the Super Bowl model or it could have been extra money sloshing around for the 100th to snag Bieber & friends

        • I’ve never liked using the reach to judge a sports program and after seeing that, I think using the stat for a whole day is even more worthless. So on Grey Cup Sunday 24.9 million Canadians turned on their TV and the Sundays before and after it was 24.8 and 24.7 million.

          What does that really tell you about the Grey Cup? Nothing in my opinion.

  4. Another NHL rating: 809,000 for the Florida-Montreal game on RDS last night. I know RDS’s rating went into the tank along with the Habs last season so they must be happy with the 1.3 million or whatever it was for the opener and then this number for a Tuesday night against Florida. This twitter feed has some NFL numbers too.
    https://twitter.com/RDS_RP

  5. Not sure about other providers but Rogers has been offering a free preview of OWN, I don’t know if it’s related to the Lance interview or not. The Te’o story has all the right amount of scandal and promise of titillating details that would probably rope in the viewers who watch Katie on a regular basis. Couric got the interview because apparently she and Te’o share the same publicist. I guess they really want to build her brand a la Oprah (portions of the interview will also air on ABC’s primetime news magazine programs).

    The fact that CTV even airs Charlie Sheen’s new show is questionable, but the amount of effort they put into promoting that show is just downright scary (post-Olympics spot and post-Conference Championship game). I really thought all the hoopla around Sheen died two years ago or does he still command a loyal fanbase in this country? While I neither love nor hate The Big Bang Theory, the amount of promotion it was getting on Sunday was also annoying, isn’t it already Canada’s most watched show? Even though extended television spots for Hollywood blockbusters and Frito Lay products aren’t my cup of tea, I will definitely be seeking a non-CTV feed for watching the Super Bowl this year.

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