Ratings Roundup: NFL Game Outdraws World Series for First Time Ever

For the first time in history, a regular-season NFL game drew more television viewers than a World Series game, with 18.1 million people tuning into NBC’s Sunday Night Football versus the 15.5 million for Game 4 of the Giants-Rangers series on Fox. NFL has rarely squared off head-to-head with the World Series in the past, because the network skipped a week of Sunday Night Football for the first four years of its current NFL contract. The competing telecasts damaged both network’s ratings. The Giants’ 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers earned a 9.0 rating for Fox, down 32% from 2009 (Yankees-Phillies, 13.3) and marking the lowest Game 4 ratings ever. The Saints’ 20-10 win over the Steelers on NBC had a 10.7, down 19% from the 13.2 rating SNF had averaged this year going into the game.

The tables turned in the other direction on Monday when the Giants’ series-clinching victory in Game 5 on Fox beat ESPN’s Monday Night Football 10.6 to 8.6 in the overnight ratings. The Colts-Texans MNF telecast was up slightly from 2009 (Falcons-Saints, 8.5), which also aired head-to-head with the World Series. Last year, MNF was bested by the Yankees-Phillies Game 5 12.8 to 8.5.

ESPN’s four opening-week NBA telecasts averaged a 1.9 rating and 2.6 million viewers, an increase of 46% in rating (1.3) and 60% in viewers (1,634,000). The Miami Heat’s home opener against the Orlando Magic was ESPN’s most-viewed opening-week game ever (3.8 million viewers) and the network’s third most-viewed NBA regular-season game ever.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has seen huge Blackhawks ratings during the first month of the NHL season. The game telecasts averaged a 2.82 household average rating in October (approximately 98,773 households per game) — a 77% increase over last October’s 1.59 average.  That is also up 191% from 2008 (0.97) and 588% from 2007 (0.41). All 10 of Comcast SportsNet’s Blackhawks telecasts in October averaged at least a 2.0 household rating.  Last October, only one game averaged at least a 2.0 rating.