Weekend Ratings Predictions


Ratings predictions for sporting events this weekend, including the NFL’s Conference Championship Games, the NHL on NBC, the PBA Tournament of Champions on ABC, and college basketball on CBS and ESPN.

First, the results of last week’s predictions

Sport Game/Event Net
Ravens/Steelers CBS
The first game of last weekend’s NFL Divisional Round slate earned a 19.4 final rating on CBS, up 21% from last year, up 26% from 2009, and the highest rated Saturday Divisional Round game since ’96.
Packers/Falcons FOX
Last Saturday’s Packers/Falcons matchup earned a 17.0 rating on FOX, even with last year’s comparable window, and up 23% from 2009.
Seahawks/Bears FOX
The Bears’ win over the sub-.500 Seahawks drew a 19.1 final rating on FOX last Sunday, down 13% from last year, but up 2% from 2009. The 19.1 is the second-lowest rating for the early Sunday Divisional window since ’03.
Jets/Patriots CBS
Boosted by a week of hype, last Sunday’s Jets/Patriots game drew a mammoth 24.2 final rating on CBS, up 20% from last year, up 24% from 2009, and the highest rated NFL Divisional Round game, regardless of day, since ’97.
Heat/Bulls NBA TV
NBA TV earned a 0.1 U.S. rating for Heat/Bulls last Saturday night, below the network’s season average of 0.2.
Nuggets/Spurs ESPN
Last Sunday’s Nuggets/Spurs game drew a 0.9 U.S. rating on ESPN. Ratings for last year’s Jazz/Nuggets game were not available.
College Basketball (M)
Maryland/#7 Villanova CBS
Freed from NFL competition, Saturday’s Maryland/Villanova men’s college basketball game drew a 1.0 final rating on CBS, up 67% from Illinois/Michigan State last year. Last year’s game faced NFL action on FOX.
College Basketball (M)
#8 Purdue/West Virginia CBS
Opposite NFL action on FOX, Sunday’s Purdue/West Virginia game drew a 0.6 final rating, even with last year’s Connecticut/Michigan matchup, which also faced NFL competition.

This week’s predictions:

Sport Game/Event Day/Time Net Prediction
Packers/Bears 3 PM Sunday FOX
After the most-viewed Wild Card and Divisional Rounds on record, the NFL postseason continues with Sunday’s Conference Championship games. First up, a titanic battle of rivals as the Packers face the Bears. Ratings will almost assuredly decline from last year’s Vikings/Saints game on FOX (30.6), which aired in the late timeslot and featured Brett Favre. However, the numbers should top last year’s early game between the Jets and Colts (26.3).
Jets/Steelers 6:30 PM Sunday CBS
The Jets have been in the news all season long — for their reality show, for trash talk, for a coach purposefully tripping an opponent, for infamous videos supposedly involving their head coach, for two separate controversies involving female reporters (one involving a former player). Now, one of the league’s most controversial teams enters the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year, facing the Steelers. Expect the game to rank as the highest rated AFC Championship Game since the 1985-86 season (NE/MIA: 32.4), although the numbers may not match last year’s comparable NFC title game on FOX (MIN/NO: 30.6).
PBA Tournament of Champions 2:30 PM Saturday ABC
Bowling returns to ABC for the first time in more than a decade with Saturday’s PBA Tournament of Champions. Last year’s telecast, which featured the first female champion in the history of the PBA Tour, earned a 1.3 on ESPN. Without a similiarly high-profile story, and without the aid of a highly-rated lead-in (last year’s telecast aired immediately following Sunday NFL Countdown, which drew a 2.2 rating), look for a slight decline in ratings — even with the move from cable to broadcast.
Flyers/Blackhawks 12:30 PM Sunday NBC
The NHL returns to NBC for the first time since the Winter Classic with Sunday’s Stanley Cup Final rematch between the Flyers and Blackhawks. On the comparable date last year, NBC’s Penguins/Flyers game drew a 1.0; expect a slight uptick for this year’s game.
College Basketball (M)
#1 Ohio State/#22 Illinois 12 PM Saturday CBS
College basketball returns to CBS with a Saturday tripleheader. First, the #1 team in the country takes on Illinois in a Big Ten battle of top 25 teams. Last year’s comparable regional action drew a 0.9.
College Basketball (M)
Tennessee/#8 Connecticut OR Stanford/UCLA 2 PM Saturday CBS
In the rare men’s college basketball game that would probably get more hype if the women’s teams were playing, Bruce Pearl takes a break from his SEC suspension to coach his Volunteers against Jim Calhoun‘s Huskies. Others get Stanford/UCLA. Last year’s comparable regional action drew a 1.4.
College Basketball (M)
#11 Texas/#2 Kansas 4 PM Saturday CBS
CBS ends its tripleheader of college action with Texas facing #2 Kansas. Last year’s comparable matchup between then-#1 Texas and #21 Connecticut drew a healthy 1.7.
College Basketball (M)
#18 Michigan State/#13 Purdue 9 PM Saturday ESPN
In primetime, ESPN offers viewers Michigan State/Purdue. Last year’s comparable matchup between Duke and Clemson drew a 1.3.

(Ratings for some events from nielsen.com)