NFL Preseason: Week 3 Brings Lower Numbers For NBC, CBS, ESPN


The third week of the 2011 NFL preseason did not attract particularly impressive numbers for TV partners NBC, CBS and ESPN.

The Week 3 national TV slate began and ended on a down note. First, Thursday’s Washington/Ravens game earned 4.614 million viewers on ESPN, down 20% from Week 3 last year (IND/GB: 5.729M), and down 42% from ESPN’s Week 3 game in 2009, which aired on a Monday night (MIN/HOU: 7.918M).

The following night, CBS scored the only increase of the week, as the network’s Packers/Colts game drew a 4.1 final rating and 6.740 million viewers — up 11% in ratings and 14% in viewership from last year (SD/NO: 3.7, 5.938M), and flat and up 7%, respectively, from 2009 (NE/WSH: 4.1, 6.285M).

CBS followed that up with a decline on Saturday night. The Patriots/Lions preseason game drew a 3.7 and 5.597 million viewers on the network, down 5% in ratings and 13% in viewership from last year (DAL/HOU: 3.9, 6.441M), but up 37% and 35%, respectively, from 2009 (SD/ATL: 2.7, 4.153M).

NBC rounded out the rather soft week with a 5.6 rating and 9.270 million viewers for Saints/Raiders, down 8% in ratings and 9% in viewership from the Week 3 Sunday night game last year, which aired on FOX (PIT/DEN: 6.1, 10.127M), and down 12% and 11%, respectively, from Week 3 in 2009 (CHI/DEN: 6.5, 10.381M).

(This year’s numbers from TV By the Numbers [1], [2])

  • Anonymous

    The soft OTA ratings weren’t due to the matchups. Because of Hurricane Irene coverage, Patriots-Lions aired on non-CBS stations or subchannels in a good part of the Northeast. NBC had to black out the Bay Area, Sacramento and Salinas/Monterey when Saints-Raiders did not sell out.