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ESPN Shows You Can Spin Ratings Any Way You Want: TRAINA THOUGHTS

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1. Only a sports media nerd with nothing going on in their life would get fixated on what I’m about to point out, but I can’t help myself.

Ratings are in for the two Week 18 Saturday games that aired last weekend on ABC/ESPN.

To no one’s surprise, the numbers were very good. Chiefs-Broncos generated 19.1 million viewers in the 4:30 p.m. window, while 20.3 million people watched Cowboys-Eagles at 8 p.m.

The Cowboys will always draw a big number no matter where and when they play, and the Chiefs nowadays are a draw thanks to their fun offense. But this is still outstanding viewership for a Saturday, which is a dead night for TV ratings.

ESPN, though, is putting some extra spin on those numbers that is just downright laughable. The network carried the games under its Monday Night Football umbrella. If you watched the games, the broadcasters kept referring to it as a “Saturday edition of Monday Night Football.”

Thanks to that distinction, ESPN is now lumping in the ratings for the two Saturday games with its MNF numbers.

In a press release to tout the viewership success of both contests, ESPN dropped ridiculous nuggets such as:

  • Cowboys-Eagles: Most-Watched MNF Game Since 2009; Third Best in ESPN Era.
  • Chiefs-Broncos: ESPN’s Fifth-Best Most-Watched MNF Game.
  • Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday elevated MNF regular-season viewership to an average of 14,182,000 viewers a game (19 games), the best regular-season viewership for ESPN since 2010 and the third-best since 2006.

THESE GAMES WERE NOT PLAYED ON MONDAY NIGHT!!! This is a total apples-and-oranges comparison.

Again, in the grand scheme of life, ESPN using funny business and chicanery to spin ratings is hardly important or relevant. But it shows that anyone can spin ratings to fit any narrative they’d like.

2. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV appeared on Good Morning America Tuesday and certainly seemed like he had been celebrating his national title game victory in a big way.

3. ESPN's David Pollack eschewed the X's and O's analysis for last night's Alabama-Georgia game and gave us a different kind of breakdown.

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4. The Alabama radio call of the Georgia interception and run back for a touchdown to end the game was hysterical.

5. For my fellow degenerate gamblers out there, this is a must-read story about a little shadiness that took place with some Draymond Green prop bets a couple of nights ago.  

6. This week's SI Media Podcast, which dropped Thursday afternoon, is a roundtable edition featuring Al Michaels and Tom Rinaldi on the career of John Madden.

Michaels, who worked with Madden for seven seasons, and Rinaldi, who was a director on the recent Fox Sports documentary about Madden, share behind-the-scenes stories, give us insight into Madden's personality and discuss some of the memorable relationships Madden had throughout his career.

Everything from Madden's fear of flying to the Madden Cruiser to his partnership with Pat Summerall and much more is covered.

Following Michaels and Rinaldi is the weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment with Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY TV in New York. This week, Sal and I talk about his bout with COVID-19, reaction to a Wizards broadcaster making an innocent mistake, Kirk Herbstreit's recent controversial comments and the best things we watched over the holidays.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: On this date, Jan. 11, 2004, the "Ben's Birthday Party" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm aired, and we learned Larry's true feelings about skewers and the "Happy Birthday" song.

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