Traina Thoughts: ESPN's NFL Pregame Show Takes Big Ratings Hit

Ratings are down big for ESPN's revamped 'Sunday NFL Countdown' pregame show.
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1. There's been tons of talk about ratings for NFL games being down this season. A new piece in the Sporting News looks at the numbers for NFL pregame shows. CBS, which seems to change hosts every year, is down, while FOX, which has had basically the same cast forever, is up slightly. 

The big news, though, is that ESPN is down big. 

ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown: 1.1 million viewers; down 14.8%
CBS' NFL Today: 3.3 million viewers; down 5.7%
FOX NFL Sunday: 4.7 million viewers; up 0.6%
NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning: 620,000 views; up 17%

As with NFL games, there are several reasons for a ratings change. It's never about one reason. For instance, pregame shows -- in this era of social media, Facebook Live, niche fantasy shows -- are becoming less and less relevant. Some people with a bizarre anti-ESPN bias will say the network's ratings are down across the board, so that's why their NFL pregame show is down. Of course, there are these crazy things called facts, and the truth is ESPN is coming off their best ratings in months for its daytime programming

Personally, I think a lot people underestimated how much viewers liked Chris Berman and Tom Jackson. This is Berman's first year off the show after hosting it for 31 years, while Jackson left before last season. Berman became one of the prime targets of social media. Few in sports media have been mocked more over the years. But Sunday NFL Countdown was HIS show. Whether you liked him or not, Berman was a legend, an iconic figure who people recognized and felt comfortable seeing on their televisions.

You can't knock ESPN for trying to put together a younger cast, but the new crew -- Sam Ponder, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Ryan -- is just blah. So many media people said Ryan would be a smash hit on TV because he was a good soundbite as a coach. I repeatedly said he'd be a bust on TV because his buffoon act as a head coach was all schtick and no substance. Ryan has not had one memorable TV moment outside of saying he was "pissed off" that the man he voted for, Donald Trump, called NFL players who kneel for the national anthem, "son of a bitches."

I'm not saying Berman wasn't an A+ broadcaster. And I'm not saying people flocked to their TVs to watch Berman. But I do think people took Berman, and especially the Berman and Jackson pairing, which featured great chemistry, for granted.

2. Speaking of ESPN pregame shows, WFAN host, Mike Francesa is not a fan of the Monday Night Football pregame show in any way, shape or form.

3. Blake Griffin, who does comedy on the side, presents his take on what people in L.A. say.

4. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal had a field day last night roasting LiAngelo Ball over his arrest for allegedly stealing sunglasses. 

5. Another prime-time NFL game, another ridiculous backdoor cover. 

6. I don't know why this is the case and I'm not exactly proud about this, but for some reason, I always laugh when an NBA player slaps hands with imaginary teammates.

7. Julian Edelman is the guest on this week's Off The Board. The Patriots wide out talks Brady, Belichick, burgers, music pro wrestling and much more. You can listen below or download the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.

8. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: There was great feedback to the Jim Cornette video I posted in Thursday's Traina Thoughts when I covered the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Screwjob. Here's another gem from Cornette on why he hated Shawn Michaels.


The best of the Internet, plus musings by writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

BONUS ITEM: Cowboys at Falcons is the big game of the weekend. I like Dallas +3.