Skip to main content

NFL Playoff Ratings Take Big Hit: TRAINA THOUGHTS

  • Author:
  • Updated:

1Last week, I wrote about the 7% ratings dip the NFL took over the regular season and predicted super wild-card weekend would produce excellent ratings based on the matchups, markets and star players involved.

Well, I was wrong in a big way.

On Tuesday morning, Sportico’s Anthony Crupi reported ratings for last weekend’s games were down big on Saturday (-25%) and Sunday (-20%).

Jumping from a 7% regular-season drop to a 25% and 20% playoff drop doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense, but I have a couple of theories about why this happened:

First, the added game on each day of the weekend gave us games from 1 p.m. ET to nearly midnight ET. That’s a lot of time to be planted in front of the TV for people who use the weekends to get stuff done, à la Will Ferrell in Old School. That added game may have been great for the die-hard NFL fan, but the fringe fan can’t, and won’t, spend 11 straight hours watching football.

Second, I haven’t seen the ratings for cable news on Saturday and Sunday, but I would imagine they were up significantly after the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday. Between coverage of identification of the rioters, news about impeachment talks and the decisions of Twitter and Facebook to ban the president’s accounts, cable news had no shortage of current events to cover. There can be little doubt those channels pulled many fringe NFL fans away from the playoffs.

As always, though, perspective is needed when evaluating the NFL’s ratings.

On Saturday, 21.8 million people watched football. On Sunday, 26 million people watched football. Sunday's Browns-Steelers game was the most-watched prime-time show since last February's Super Bowl. No other sports or TV shows come close to generating those numbers.

I’d predict the NFL viewership numbers will bounce back this weekend because the games are filled with stars like Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. But given Joe Biden’s impending inauguration and the current news cycle, it’s hard to be sure the NFL can rebound right now.

2. The Nickelodeon telecast of Bears-Saints on Sunday, which was a smash hit with social media users, generated 2.06 million viewers. CBS says that is the highest rating for Nickelodeon in four years. The game generated 28 million viewers on CBS.

3. What a day for Tom Brady on Monday. First, he, and I'm going to use a gross phrase here, won the internet with this tremendous tweet.

Then we learned he was mic'd up for the Bucs' playoff win against the Washington Football Team on Saturday. When the GOAT is mic'd up, you watch the video no matter what.

4. More proof we live in two totally different countries. You have the people who take COVID-19 seriously on one side, and then you have this.

5. Last week's SI Media Podcast was recorded Wednesday afternoon, before the disturbing events at the U.S. Capitol.

The episode features interviews with New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand and reporter Armen Keteyian, who is an executive producer on HBO's upcoming Tiger Woods documentary, which I reviewed in Thursday's Traina Thoughts.

Topics I discussed with Marchand include Boomer Esiason's filling in for Tony Romo, an update on Jim Nantz's contract situation with CBS, a problem for Fox's college football pregame show, Tom Rinaldi's leaving ESPN for Fox, ESPN's getting fooled by a fake Adam Schefter story and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.

6. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Here was the opening to Monday night's Jeopardy!, the first without Alex Trebek, in which Ken Jennings spoke eloquently about the legendary host.

7. SPORTS VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 61st birthday to the Human Highlight Reel, Dominique Wilkins.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.