Weekend Ratings Predictions


Ratings predictions for this weekend’s sporting events, including Week 8 of the NFL season, the World Series, college football action, and NASCAR’s Chase For The Cup.

First, the results of last week’s predictions

Sport Game/Event Net
NFL Vikings/Packers NBC
Last week’s Vikings/Packers Sunday night game, the second return of Brett Favre to Lambeau Field, drew a 15.4 final rating on NBC — up 69% from Week 7 last year, up 144% from Week 7 in 2008, and the network’s second-highest rated regular season NFL game since resuming coverage in ’06.
NFL Patriots/Chargers or OAK/DEN CBS
Sunday’s Week 7 NFL national window, featuring Patriots/Chargers, drew a 13.1 final rating on CBS — down 22% from last year and down 8% from 2008. This marks the first time all season that ratings have declined for the NFL national window.
NFL Steelers/Dolphins, CLE/NO, CIN/ATL, JAX/KC or BUF/BAL CBS
Regional NFL action featuring Steelers/Dolphins drew a 9.4 final rating on CBS last Sunday, down 18% from last year, but up 47% from 2008. The game drew the highest rating of the season for the first game of an NFL doubleheader.
NFL Washington/Bears (34%), PHI/TEN (33%), AZ/SEA (19%), SF/CAR (9%) or STL/TB (4%) FOX
The 9.3 final rating for last Sunday’s NFL singleheader window on FOX marks a 45% increase from last year, but an 8% drop from 2008. This marks the lowest rating of the season for the singleheader window.
MLB Giants/Phillies Game 6 FOX
The clinching game of the Giants/Phillies NLCS drew a 6.7 final rating on FOX last Saturday night, down 28% from Game 6 of last year’s ALCS on FOX, but the second-highest rating for any NLCS game since 2006.
College Football #13 Wisconsin/#15 Iowa (65%), #16 Nebraska/#14 Oklahoma State (20%) or Georgia Tech/Clemson (15%) ABC
Regional college football action drew a 3.7 final rating on ABC last Saturday afternoon, down 18% from last year and down 3% from 2008.
College Football #1 Oklahoma/#11 Missouri ESPN
Oklahoma’s loss to Missouri drew a 4.3 final rating on ABC last Saturday, up 27% from last year, up 39% from 2008, and the network’s third-highest rated college football telecast of the season.
College Football Notre Dame/Navy CBS
CBS drew a 1.6 final rating for Navy’s win over Notre Dame last Saturday, down 16% from the same matchup on the network in 2008.
College Football #6 LSU/#4 Auburn CBS
The 4.5 final rating for last Saturday’s LSU/Auburn game marks a 25% increase from last year and a 125% increase from 2008.
College Football #7 Michigan State/Northwestern ESPN
Last Saturday’s Michigan State/Northwestern game drew a 2.1 U.S. rating on ESPN, down 13% from the matchup in the same timeslot last year.
College Football #8 Alabama/Tennessee ESPN
ESPN earned a 2.5 U.S. rating for Alabama/Tennessee last Saturday night, down 27% from last year, but up 14% from two years ago.
NASCAR Tums Fast Relief 500 ESPN
NASCAR’s Tums Fast Relief 500 earned a 2.4 U.S. rating on ESPN last Sunday, down 17% from last year, down 27% from 2008, and the lowest rating for the race in ten years.

This week’s predictions:

Sport Game/Event Day/Time Net Prediction
NFL Steelers/Saints 8:15 PM Sunday NBC
For the first time since gaining rights to Sunday night games in 2006, NBC will air an NFL game opposite the World Series. Sunday’s Steelers/Saints matchup features the last two Super Bowl champions — one of whom is 5-1 (Pittsburgh) — and two high profile QBs (Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees). With the World Series providing competition, the ratings will certainly not be as high as last week’s Vikings/Packers matchup (15.4). That said, expect good numbers, and expect the game to be the top rated program of the night.
NFL Vikings/Patriots (89%), TB/AZ (5%) or SEA/OAK (5%) 4:15 PM Sunday FOX
The Vikings may be 2-4, but they still have two of the highest profile players in the NFL — embattled QB Brett Favre and WR Randy Moss. With Moss heading back to Foxboro to face his former team just weeks after being traded, and with drama over whether Favre will play, expect a huge audience for Sunday’s telecast. Last year’s comparable telecast featured Vikings/Packers, in Brett Favre‘s first return to Lambeau Field (17.4).
NFL Packers/Jets (77%), CAR/STL (8%) or WSH/DET (6%) 1 PM Sunday FOX
The early window on FOX features two teams tied at the top of their divisions — the Packers and Jets. Other markets get far less appetizing fare, with the 1-5 Panthers against the 3-4 Rams and 4-3 Washington facing the 1-5 Lions. Expect a modest decline in ratings from last year’s 9.7.
NFL Jaguars/Cowboys OR DEN/SF, MIA/CIN, BUF/KC or TEN/SD 1 or 4 PM Sunday CBS
Every game on CBS’ docket this weekend features at least one sub-.500 team, with the main attraction pitting the 1-5 Cowboys against the 3-3 Jaguars. While the Cowboys are arguably the biggest draw in sports, their poor record and low-profile opponent is unlikely to result in big numbers Sunday. Last year’s comparable window drew an 8.4.
MLB Giants/Rangers Game 3 7 PM Saturday FOX
Game 3 has been the lowest rated game of the World Series every year since the current scheduling format began, and three of the five lowest rated World Series games in history have taken place on Saturday night. With the first two games of Giants/Rangers already ranking among some of the lowest rated games in history, expect low numbers for Saturday’s Game 3. The lowest rated game in World Series history is Rays/Phillies Game 3 in 2008, which aired on a Saturday night (6.1).
MLB Giants/Rangers Game 4 8 PM Sunday FOX
After Saturday’s likely series-low, expect a bounce back for Sunday’s Game 4. While a lead-in from Vikings/Patriots should give the ratings a boost, competiton from Steelers/Saints on NBC will surely hurt. The lowest rated Game 4 in World Series history came in 2008, when Rays/Phillies drew a 9.3. That game had an NFL lead-in and no competition. Expect Sunday’s game to set a new Game 4 record low, and get beaten head-to-head in the process.
College Football #5 Michigan State/#18 Iowa (77%) or #6 Missouri/#14 Nebraska (23%) 3:30 PM Saturday ABC
ABC’s last three college football telecasts have drawn ratings of 3.5 (October 9), 3.6 (October 16) and 3.7 (October 23). Will this week’s coverage continue the trend, with a 3.8? Even if not, expect an increase from last year’s comparable telecast (3.2).
College Football #2 Oregon/USC (79%) or #11 Ohio State/Minnesota (21%) 8 PM Saturday ABC
ABC’s Saturday Night Football features USC/Oregon in most of the country, the exact same matchup the network featured on the comparable date last year. Last year’s matchup was a battle of top 10 teams (#5 USC and #10 Oregon); by contrast, USC is unranked and bowl ineligible for this year’s game. Additionally, last year’s telecast also included a battle between #3 Texas and #14 Oklahoma State, while this year’s secondary contest features #11 Ohio State against unranked Minnesota. Expect the ratings to fall short of last year’s 4.2.
College Football Florida/Georgia 3:30 PM Saturday CBS
Ratings are likely to fall significantly for Saturday’s Florida/Georgia game. Both teams are unranked, and the Tim Tebow-less Gators have already proven to be a lesser draw than a year ago. Last year’s matchup between the same teams drew a 4.4 rating on CBS.
College Football Tulsa/Notre Dame 2:30 PM Saturday NBC
Saturday afternoon’s Tulsa/Notre Dame game is unlikely to attract many viewers. However, do not expect a major decline in ratings, as last year’s primetime Washington State/Notre Dame game drew a mere 1.4.
College Football #22 Miami/Virginia 12 PM Saturday ESPN
Expect a double-digit drop in ratings for Saturday’s Noon ET Miami/Virgnia game on ESPN. Last year’s Indiana/Iowa matchup drew a hefty-for-the-timeslot 2.8 rating.
College Football Michigan/Penn State 8 PM Saturday ESPN
Despite competition from the World Series and college football on ABC, expect an increase in ratings for Saturday night’s Michigan/Penn State matchup on ESPN. Last year’s comparable South Carolina/Tennessee tilt drew a 1.5.
College Football #1 Auburn/Mississippi 6 PM Saturday ESPN2
The fourth different #1 team in the nation will play on the fourth different network in as many weeks, as #1 Auburn faces Mississippi on ESPN2. Do not expect Saturday’s game to match the three previous games involving the #1 team, each of which drew north of a 4.0 rating on CBS, ABC and ESPN. Still, the numbers should be among the largest ever for college football on ESPN2.
NASCAR Amp Energy 500 1 PM Sunday ESPN
None of the Chase For The Cup races on ESPN this year have come anywhere close to the 3.2 for the Bank of America 500 on ABC two weeks ago. The Amp Energy 500 is typically the highest rated Chase race of a given year; with the points standings as close as they’ve been since the Chase began in ’04, can this year’s race keep up that trend? Either way, expect a big drop from last year’s 4.2.

(Sports Business Daily)