Will John Madden Help the Ratings for Monday Night Football?

March 11, 2002

Yes: In Monday Night Mayhem director Chet Forte is portrayed
ending his powwow with producer Roone Arledge on the inaugural
season of Monday Night Football by saying, "Cosell makes it
huge." Well, John Madden will make it huge again. Just as people
tuned in to hear Howard Cosell, football fans will watch the
likable Madden, who will be energized by working with new partner
Al Michaels. Network ratings may be falling because of cable TV,
but MNF will exceed last year's embarrassing 11.5 Nielsen average
by putting a personality on the air whose jokes don't require
translation. Madden appeals to the blue-collar football purists
and the under-18 crowd, who know him as the name behind the
wildly popular Madden NFL video game. Need more proof? Madden's Q
rating is equal to Muhammad Ali's. --John O'Keefe

No: It doesn't matter if it's John Madden, Jon Gruden or Jon
Voight alongside Al Michaels in the broadcasting booth, MNF's
ratings will continue to head south, as they have for the past
seven years, even with the addition of Mr. Ace Hardware. With an
ever expanding TV universe competing for fickle viewers, MNF will
only draw big numbers when it gets a larger number of
scintillating matchups. Clearly, though, a booth featuring Madden
and Michaels is an improvement over the three-headed monster of
Michaels, Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller. When you subtract inept
sideline reporter Eric Dickerson, who along with Fouts and Miller
was also taken off MNF last week, that's good news for viewers.
At least for the ones who are still tuning in. --R.D.

COLOR PHOTO: RIC FELD/AP PHOTO TWO COLOR PHOTOS: EBAY (2)

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