Though down slightly from last year, the 2011-12 NFL season opener earned strong numbers for NBC.
Thursday’s NFL Kickoff Game between the Saints and Packers earned a 17.2 overnight rating on NBC, down 3% from last year (MIN/NO: 17.7), but up 25% from 2009 (TEN/PIT: 13.8).
The 17.2 overnight is the second-highest ever for an NFL Kickoff Game (ten telecasts), behind only last year, and the second-highest for a regular season NFL game on NBC since the network resumed airing games in 2006.
Overall, the game ranks as the second-highest rated primetime NFL telecast in the metered markets since the 1998-99 season, again trailing only last year’s opener.
Compared to the rest of the sporting landscape, the game topped every single non-NFL sporting event this year — including the BCS National Championship Game (AUB/ORE: 16.1, ESPN), the top game of the NBA Finals (DAL/MIA G6: 15.0, ABC) and the Men’s NCAA Tournament National Championship Game (CT/BUT: 13.3, CBS).
NBC earned a 16.1 overnight in primetime (8-11 PM), the network’s best Thursday night in primetime — excluding the Olympics — since the May 2004 series finale of the situation comedy Frasier.
New Orleans led all markets for Thursday’s game with a 57.7, down 4% from last year’s Vikings/Saints opener (60.0). Milwaukee was second with a 53.1, up 60% from last year’s game, which featured former Packer Brett Favre (33.3).
Minneapolis (23.8), Kansas City (23.0), and Nashville, TN (22.6) rounded out the top five.
(Information from NBC Universal Media Village)