Weekend Ratings Predictions


Ratings predictions for this weekend’s sporting events, including Week 15 of the NFL season, college football bowl games, and college basketball action.

First, the results of last week’s predictions

Sport Game/Event Net
NFL Eagles/Cowboys NBC
NBC drew a 15.2 final rating for last Sunday’s Eagles/Cowboys game, up 20% from last year, up 88% from 2008, and the third-highest rating for a regular season NFL telecast on the network since resuming coverage in 2006.
NFL Patriots/Bears, MIA/NYJ, KC/SD, or DEN/AZ CBS
Last Sunday’s Week 14 NFL national window drew a 17.5 final rating on CBS, up 19% from last year, up 12% from 2008, and the highest regular season NFL rating since the 2007-08 season.
NFL Bengals/Steelers, OAK/JAX or CLE/BUF CBS
The early window on CBS drew a 9.6 final rating, down a tick from last year, and even with 2008.
NFL Giants/Vikings (49%), GB/DET (12%), STL/NO (12%), ATL/CAR (9%), SEA/SF (9%), TB/WSH (8%)* FOX
The Week 14 singleheader, which featured Patriots/Lions in 55% of TV markets after Giants/Vikings was postponed to Monday night, drew a 10.5 final rating on FOX — down a tick from last year, and down 2% from 2008.
College Football Army/Navy CBS
The 3.3 final rating for last week’s Army/Navy game marks an 11% drop from last year, but is the second-highest rating for the game since 2000.
College Football Heisman Trophy Presentation ESPN
ESPN earned a 2.3 U.S. rating for the Heisman Trophy Presentation last Saturday night, , down 34% from last year, down 15% from two years ago, and the lowest rating for the event since 2006.
College Basketball Saint Louis/Duke CBS
Last Saturday’s Saint Louis/Duke game drew just a 0.8 final rating on CBS, down 33% from last year.

This week’s predictions:

Sport Game/Event Day/Time Net Prediction
NFL Packers/Patriots 8:20 PM Sunday NBC
NBC gets a pair of big name playoff contenders Sunday night, as the 8-5 Packers face the 11-2 Patriots. This is the second straight week the Patriots are facing an NFC North opponent; their game against the Bears last week drew the highest NFL regular season rating in three years. Expect an increase from last year’s Week 15 tilt between the Vikings and Panthers (11.0).
NFL Jets/Steelers or DEN/OAK 4:15 PM Sunday CBS
Two of the higher profile teams in the AFC square off in Sunday’s Week 15 national window on CBS as the 9-4 Jets face the 10-3 Steelers. Over the past four weeks, ratings for the NFL national window have jumped by at least one full ratings point week to week (14.2 to 15.3 to 16.3 to 17.5). Expect that trend to end this week. Last year’s Week 15 national window drew a 15.1.
NFL Jaguars/Colts, KC/STL, BUF/MIA, CLE/CIN or HOU/TEN 1 PM Sunday CBS
The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader features a crucial battle at the top of the AFC South between the Jaguars and Colts. Other games include the AFC West-leading Chiefs, the NFC West co-leading Rams, and the still-in-contention Dolphins. Expect a substantial increase from last year’s 6.7.
NFL Eagles/Giants (50%), ATL/SEA (18%), WSH/DAL (15%), NO/BAL (7%), AZ/CAR (5%) or DET/TB (4%) 1 or 4 PM Sunday FOX
High profile quarterbacks Michael Vick of the Eagles face Eli Manning of the Giants square off in a big-market battle at the top of the NFC East. Also on the docket, the NFC-leading Falcons face the NFC West co-leading Seahawks, Washington and Dallas renew their rivalry in a battle of soap opera teams, and the defending champion, 10-3 Saints face the 9-4 Ravens. Expect a season-high for the singleheader window, and a substantial rise from last year’s 11.0.
College Football New Mexico Bowl (BYU/UTEP) 2 PM Saturday ESPN
The college football bowl season gets underway with the New Mexico Bowl on ESPN Saturday. Last year’s double-overtime New Mexico Bowl between Wyoming and Fresno State drew a 2.4 rating on ESPN. Even if this year’s game doesn’t match last year’s drama, the name recognition of BYU should prevent a big drop in ratings.
College Football Humanitarian Bowl (Northern Illinois/Fresno State) 5:30 PM Saturday ESPN
The Humanitarian Bowl takes place more than a week earlier than last year. In each of the last two years, the game has drawn a 2.1 rating. Will the earlier date for this year’s game affect the numbers?
College Football New Orleans Bowl (Ohio/Troy) 9 PM Saturday ESPN
With a Sunday night timeslot that put it directly opposite the NFL, the New Orleans Bowl has been a stinker in the ratings the last two years — drawing a 0.7 rating last year and a 0.8 cable rating two years ago (the U.S. rating was not available). While a move from Sunday to Saturday night may seem to be a negative from a ratings perspective, the lack of competition could result in a substantial increase.
College Basketball South Carolina/#2 Ohio State or Stanford/Butler 2 PM Saturday CBS
CBS offers a pair of regional matchups in the opener of its college basketball doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Look for ratings to rise from the first game of last year’s comparable doubleheader, which drew just a 0.7.
College Basketball #25 Texas/North Carolina 4 PM Saturday CBS
Expect decent (for college basketball in December) numbers for Saturday’s matchup between Texas and UNC. Last year’s comparable meeting between Duke and Gonzaga earned a 1.3.

(Sports Business Daily)