Inside The Numbers: The NFL Pregame Show Ratings

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I was kind of taken aback this afternoon by a ratings release of the NFL Pregame Shows. Now my forte isn't knowing and understanding Television ratings, but I'd like to read a little bit into these and you can tell me if I'm off base. We tried this once before and your help was much appreciated. Let's dive into this shall we?

Background: As far as the early Sunday Pregame Show ratings go FOX has been blowing everyone out of the water for the past few years. CBS only passed them 4 times last year, and before that only once since CBS got the NFL back on their network in 1998.

Current ratings: CBS is taking it to FOX. The Network's Pregame show has beat FOX both Weeks and is up 13.3% last year. While that's remarkable in its own right last week's numbers are what really stuck/stick out. The Eye was up 32% from Week 2 last year and beat out FOX by 26.9% (3.3 versus a 2.6). Factor in that the NFL is looking into how FOX and Jay Glazer obtained the Cheating Tape, and FOX is in some serious trouble.

Theories:

1. James Brown is more important to a broadcast team than I originally thought.
2. People are finally starting to ignore the gimmicks (Weather Girl, Caliendo) of FOX and are heading over to CBS.
3. Shannon Sharpe isn't as annoying to the rest of the Country as he is to me.
4. Barry Switzer was not a good addition to the NFL on FOX pregame show.

I think I'm going with #2 on this one, and if that's the case I would be amazed that America is picking its programming based on merit and content over pizazz and nonsense.

Your expertise and theories are welcome in the comments.

(Ratings from Sports Business Daily)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 1:31 PM

28 Comments:

I think it probably has more to do with the NFC sucking and the AFC games just being more interesting this year.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 2:39:00 PM  

Or that no one needs a pregame show anymore with the internet and they are all too busy checking line-ups and making wagers than listening to any washed player or coach tell them why team X will win.

Rob said...
Sep 19, 2007, 2:47:00 PM  

Both very viable options. Anon, I'm thinking that would account for some of the viewers switching, but we're talking about millions here.

Sep 19, 2007, 2:52:00 PM  

Maybe it has to do with that FUCKING ROBOT/TRANSFORMER football player...i am sick of seeing that thing....and all of there stupid graphics. CBS' presentation is nice and uncluttered. Less is more FOX, less is more.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:23:00 PM  

Could station clearances explain some of the difference? Outside the east coast, the pregame shows are in the Sunday morning church slots; maybe CBS affiliates are showing the pregame now when they didn't before.

Also, it wouldn't explain the Fox dropoff directly, but CBS may be getting viewers to switch from the stale ESPN product. (An explanation involving Fox fans moving upmarket to ESPN and former ESPN fans moving to CBS might be viable.)

Chris Lawrence said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:24:00 PM  

Can the weather be taken into account? In September when the morning's are still tolerable up here in Canada, I'll spend my Sunday pre-games doing stuff outside. Come late October, and it's colder than a witch's tit, I'll get in my full day's football feasting.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:24:00 PM  

I would also attribute it largely to the compelling teams (Indy, NE, Pitt) being in the AFC and on CBS.

personally, i haven't watched any of the shows in a couple years. too much fluff.

odessasteps said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:24:00 PM  

Pittsburgh is a compelling team???

I think you can point the dramatic shift due to one thing...Bill Cowher's chin...and Gus Johnson, too.

GMoney said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:40:00 PM  

While the Robot is as good of a reason to change the channel as any I just spoke with a person inside the industry. It's not entirely the case but Odessasteps is dead-on with the quality of games assessment that I didn't take into account.

CBS had basically a national game in Indy-Tenn, and FOX had a pretty random schedule. Surprisingly having the New York Giants playing at 1pm wasn't enough when CBS had the Jets, Colts, Steelers, and Bengals.

Sep 19, 2007, 3:58:00 PM  

Fox has Terry Bradshaw. That's reason enough to switch to CBS immediately.

Justin Williams said...
Sep 19, 2007, 3:59:00 PM  

Maybe this is another small factor. In Fort Wayne, IN our FOX channel is not available in High Def. Given the choice I will always watch an HD channel if its showing something similar to an SD channel. I don't know if this is the case in other markets.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 4:11:00 PM  

The gimicks have gotten old. There's much better eye candy than Fox's Weather Scank. Berman alone makes ESPN unwatchable, but I would agree that the loss of JB has hurt Fox more than anything else.

BCW said...
Sep 19, 2007, 4:15:00 PM  

Here's why I watch CBS:

1. It's simple.
2. There are no 10 year olds
3. Their hosts don't play to stereotypes.
4. It doesn't obsess over the NFC East (yes, I'm still here)

and, MOST IMPORTANTLY

5. It's the only pregame show that doesn't have half a dozen ex-Cowboys

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 4:17:00 PM  

I'm with you 100% Anon....if Shannon Sharpe wasn't on the show I'd never change the channel.

Sep 19, 2007, 4:20:00 PM  

it just seems that CBS takes it more seriously..they are all morons (especially Shannon Sharpe) but FOX tries too many dumb gimmicks and Terry Bradshaw is a super tard...seems like he doesn't even watch any games...

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 4:20:00 PM  

Anon, that's what I meant by playing to stereotypes. Terry Bradshaw is a very intelligent businessman. But he has to play the Country Bumpkin because that's his role on the show. And people used to watch just to see him act like a "tard," as you say. But now people are hopefully finally seeing through that act and seeing how bad the show truly is.

This has been covered before, but I feel the same way about Michael Irvin. He's there to play a role, so he has to meet management's expectations or else he won't be there anymore.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 5:16:00 PM  

AA's right when he says Brown is important. He's much better than Gumball or Nantz was in that chair.

The other answer is Cowher power. People love the guy, the square chin, the energy...most working guys can identify with him as opposed to the hair that is Jimmy Johnson.

Chip Ramsey said...
Sep 19, 2007, 6:17:00 PM  

This may have already been alluded to above, but theory is this:

- Several major NFC Eastern/Midwest market weren't playing in the 1 o'clock time slot. Chicago, Detroit, Philly, Washington. Who knows how much effect that has, but it had to play a role. I'm less inclined to get into the pre-game shows if the Bears are playing late.

Sep 19, 2007, 6:34:00 PM  

I think you nailed it AA..If people watch pregame shows its for information for your fantasy team, favorite team, et. al. Fox tries to run out all these gimmicks and lets be for real..with Boomer Esiason now becoming a national voice taking over the Imus show more people are going to tune into watch him because they listen to the radio show and his buzz is pretty good right now..

rs27 said...
Sep 19, 2007, 7:08:00 PM  

While a few have mentioned it, I think a huge amount goes to JB leaving FOX. Curt Menefee is not a credible host. JB was and is the man. A genuine, likable, knowledgable guy.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 7:43:00 PM  

I agree with the Cowher statement, et al. and Fox didn't have a pregame last week in my market prior to the early games... they didn't have an early game at all actually. but, i think they all suck, but I watch CBS more than the others. I dont need to see a bunch of guys sitting around fake laughing on FOx. its not funny. I actually like ESPN just for keyshawn, he keeps it real. Ditka and Boomer are horrible though. Ditka didn't even know what team he picked last week in the seahawks and arizona game. He said i like arizona explained the pick, then boomer goes, your down for Seattle, coach. And he goes oh yeah. that's horrible. i wont watch again. Also the little kid is retarded.

Anonymous said...
Sep 19, 2007, 8:12:00 PM  

....if Shannon Sharpe wasn't on the show I'd never change the channel.

GREAT use of double negatives to clearly confuse everyone on your position.

Shannon Sharpe is HORRIBLE.
It's not even fun to watch him mess up or stumble. It's just embarrasing for him and the network. He's awful! Marino's slow. And Cowher is good for pre-game maybe but not halftime highlights. Since when did it become the analysts job to do the highlights? JB should do them and get those guys to interject a little. Don't copy Fox just for the sake of copying Fox!
AND if I hear Chris Berman go "wooop" one more time -- i'm going to "wooop" him upside the head.

Anonymous said...
Sep 20, 2007, 12:38:00 AM  

Thanks for the editing of my comments Anon, but I think my stance was pretty clear. So you're saying you don't like nothing then?

Sep 20, 2007, 1:33:00 AM  

Bradshaw plays the hayseed today, but when he started as a game analyst 20 years ago, CBS used him only on games televised in the South precisely because they thought the hayseed act wouldn't fly elsewhere. The change is more evidence of how the South is running the country today in a way it didn't in years gone by.

My dream pregame: 30 minutes before kickoff, two guys, just news, no feature stories, no fake arguments. It'll never happen.

jb said...
Sep 20, 2007, 8:23:00 AM  

As a Southerner, I disagree. Many Southerners HATE our fellow Southerners who play to the stereotypes. They're "selling out" their culture, and they're just reinforcing the belief (which doesn't come from Southerners, I might add) that anyone with a drawl is uneducated. Many of us resent that more than we know. Many of us don't think that Terry is a great broadcaster, and Jeff Foxworthy is the best comedian in America. They're two of the biggest entertainers in AMERICA, not the South, which means that either 1) the rest of the country likes to watch them to feel better about themselves, and 2) the rest of the country is dumber than you think. I think it's more of 2 than 1.

Anonymous said...
Sep 20, 2007, 9:14:00 AM  

Oh it couldn't be because JB is on CBS that ratings are up? Of course it is. He is the best ringmaster in the business. Obviously it wasn't TB that was attracting the viewers. I can't stand Shannon either. It seems there always has to be the buffoon on CBS. Sharpe replaced Deon Sanders. But some may be tuning in to see Sharpe and the ratings are up so go figure? I think TB on Fox is a buffoon too.

Anonymous said...
Oct 19, 2007, 4:24:00 PM  

blogger is right. though i want to point out how the coasts are also responsible with how the production of these pregame shows go.
for one, cbs is produced in New York, so it's gonna give you a no-nonsense, up in your face style of programming. While on the west coast, LA produced shows are too informal and rely on 'theatrics' to spruce up their programs. How obvious is it when you compare CBS vs FOX pregrame shows. Today, I watched how CBS' first minute, they were already into serious commentary while FOX is showing off graphics and 'what's on tap' stuff. Clearly, the east coast rules!

Anonymous said...
Oct 21, 2007, 5:35:00 PM  

FOX's HD coverage doesn't look as good as CBS'. CBS has the best HD cameras out of any network. The pregame show looks a million times better.
FOX's set (especially the OT set with the Lowe's blue sponsor background) looks like someone barfed it up from a circus tent and threw it on the FOX studio lot in Hollywood.

Jerry Fallsworth said...
Oct 26, 2008, 8:14:00 PM  

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