Weekend Ratings Predictions


Ratings predictions for sporting events this weekend, including the NFL Pro Bowl, the NBA on ABC, the NHL All-Star Game, golf’s Farmers Insurance Open, college basketball action, and the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

First, the results of last week’s predictions
Some events were excluded, as final ratings were not immediately available.

Sport Game/Event Net
Packers/Bears FOX
The Packers’ win over the Bears drew a 28.1 final rating on FOX last Sunday, up 7% from last year, up 28% from 2009, and the highest rating for the early Conference Championship game since 1997.
Jets/Steelers CBS
In the late game, the Steelers’ win over the Jets earned a 28.3 final rating, down 8% from last year, up 29% from 2009, and the highest rated AFC Championship Game since 1997.
PBA Tournament of Champions ABC
ABC drew a 0.8 final rating for the PBA Tournament of Champions last Saturday, down 39% from last year’s telecast on ESPN.
College Basketball (M)
#18 Michigan State/#13 Purdue ESPN
Last Saturday’s Michigan State/Purdue matchup drew a 1.0 U.S. rating on ESPN, down 23% from last year’s Duke/Clemson matchup.

This week’s predictions:

Sport Game/Event Day/Time Net Prediction
2011 Pro Bowl 7 PM Sunday FOX
The Pro Bowl is routinely one of the lowest rated NFL telecasts of a given year. However, what’s low for the NFL is still massive compared to other sports. Last year’s Pro Bowl on cable network ESPN drew a 7.1 rating, not too far from the 8.4 FOX averaged for coverage of the 2010 World Series. Expect similarly high numbers for this year’s game. The last time the Pro Bowl aired on FOX, the game drew a 6.3.
Heat/Thunder 1 PM Sunday ABC
ABC begins its slate of Sunday afternoon NBA games with LeBron James and the Heat taking on Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Though the slumping Heat may be without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for Sunday’s game, the presence of the polarizing James should boost the numbers well beyond last year’s 1.6 for Nuggets/Spurs.
Celtics/Lakers 3:30 PM Sunday ABC
The last time the Celtics and Lakers played each other, the game drew the highest NBA rating since the Jordan era. While Sunday’s rematch will fall far short of the 15.6 for Game 7 of last year’s Finals, the numbers should be strong nonetheless. Last year’s comparable game also featured the Celtics and Lakers, drawing a 3.5 rating — the second-highest for a non-Christmas regular season game on ABC since the net reacquired rights to the league. With a lead-in from LeBron James’ Heat, and coming off last year’s seven-game Finals, expect even bigger numbers this time around.
Jazz/Warriors 10 PM Sunday ESPN
ESPN is unlikely to attract much of an audience for Sunday’s battle between the Jazz (1-6 in their last seven) and the 19-27 Warriors. The net’s first Sunday night game this season, Nuggets/Spurs, drew a 0.9.
2011 NHL All Star Game 4 PM Sunday Versus
The NHL All-Star Game returns after a one-year hiatus. This year’s game gets an afternoon timeslot, the first for the NHL All-Star Game since ’04, putting it in direct competition with both Celtics/Lakers on ABC and the Farmers Insurance Open on CBS. Not only that, but the game isn’t even the biggest All-Star Game of the day, with those honors going to the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Still, look for ratings to improve from the last All-Star Game two years ago (0.6).
Australian Open Men’s Final 3 AM Sunday ESPN2
The men’s final of the Australian Open lacks both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, which does not bode well for the ratings. When they faced each other two years ago, the final drew a 0.8 U.S. rating. When it was just Federer last year, the rating dropped to a 0.6. With neither of them involved, expect another drop for this year’s match.
Australian Open Women’s Final 3 AM Saturday ESPN2
Kim Clijsters has not exactly been a big draw in Grand Slam finals. Her win in last year’s U.S. Open final drew a 1.7 rating on CBS, the second-lowest for the Women’s Final of that tournament in over a decade. The only match to do worse? Clijsters’ win in the 2009 U.S. Open Final, which drew a 1.1. Ratings will undoubtedly be even lower for her match against Li Na in Saturday’s Australian Open — owing in part to a middle-of-the-night timeslot and a lower-profile tournament. Last year’s Australian Open final, which featured Serena Williams, drew a 0.5.
Golf (M)
Farmers Insurance Open, Third Round 3 PM Saturday CBS
Farmers Insurance Open, Final Round 3 PM Sunday
Golf makes its return to broadcast television as CBS televises the third and final rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods plays in this year’s tournament for the first time since 2008, which should help boost lagging ratings. Last year’s third and final round coverage drew ratings of 1.5 and 2.2, respectively, both actually up from the previous year (1.2 and 2.0). The last time Woods played in the event, the numbers were substantially higher — a 2.7 for third round coveage, and a 4.2 for final round action. Of course, Woods’ mere presence can only boost the ratings so far; he has to win to push the numbers into the stratosphere.
College Basketball (M)
Kansas State/#6 Kansas 7 PM Saturday ESPN
ESPN’s Saturday Primetime telecast features in-state rivals Kansas State and Kansas. Last year’s comparable matchup featured the same two teams and drew a strong 1.9 rating.
College Basketball (M)
#3 Duke/St. John’s 1 PM Sunday CBS
Look for CBS to draw solid numbers for Sunday’s Duke/St. John’s game. Last year’s comparable regional action drew a 1.3.
Figure Skating
U.S. Championships 3 PM Saturday NBC
9 PM Saturday
4 PM Sunday
Expect ratings for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships to decline from last year, when the event took place just weeks before the Winter Olympics. Last year, the Saturday afternoon window drew a 2.1, the Saturday night window drew a 3.4, and the Sunday afternoon window drew a 1.6.

  • Baseballfan75

    clijsters 2009 US Open was on espn2 due to rain I think. Thus, the much lower rating from 09 vs 10.

    • Chad

      Your right, Clisters win was on Sunday Night against Bears-Packers, because of the rain.

      What doesn’t help the Australian Open, is the matches are when most people are sleeping, of course I think they did that because of the heat, I had to record the Clijsters win.