Reviewing the predictions made on this site last January 1, on a ‘Nostradamus scale’ of 1 to 10.
Prediction: Despite the absence of several big name teams, including the Cowboys, Vikings and Colts, ratings remain strong for NFL playoff games. NBC’s Giants/Eagles NFC Wild Card game is the highest rated Saturday Wild Card game since 1999 (19.0). The Eagles/Falcons NFC title game is the highest rated early Conference Championship game in at least twelve years (28.5). Ratings aren’t quite as strong in the AFC, as the Steelers/Patriots title game draws a 28.0, down from the Vikings/Saints game in the same timeslot a year earlier (30.6). The Patriots/Eagles Super Bowl sets a new record as the most-viewed program in TV history, drawing a 45.4 rating and 107.2 million viewers.
- Nostradamus Scale: 8. The teams were wrong, but the ratings were basically on target. NBC’s Jets/Colts game (18.7) was the highest rated Saturday Wild Card game since 1999, the Packers/Bears NFC title game (28.1) was the highest rated early Conference Championship game since 1997, and the Jets/Steelers (28.3) AFC title game was down from last year. The Packers’ Super Bowl win over the Steelers was the most-viewed program in TV history, with 111.010 million viewers.
Prediction: The NFL lockout does not cost the league a single regular season game.
- Nostradamus Scale: 10. Let’s be honest here — this wasn’t going out on much of a limb. The NFL owners’ lockout resulted in the cancellation of just the preseason Hall of Fame Game.
Prediction: The Bowl Championship Series draws record-low ratings in its first year on cable. The Rose Bowl (9.6) and National Championship Game (12.7) set all-time record lows, the Fiesta Bowl (6.3) hits a fourteen-year low, the Orange Bowl (6.6) is the second-lowest rated in eighteen years, and the Sugar Bowl (7.9) is the third-lowest rated in fifteen years.
- Nostradamus Scale: 8. The Fiesta Bowl (6.2) was the lowest rated in thirteen years, the Orange Bowl (6.7) was the second-lowest rated in eighteen years, and the Sugar Bowl (8.2) was the third-lowest rated in fifteen years. Having said that, the Rose Bowl (11.3) and BCS National Championship Game (15.3) easily avoided the all-time record lows predicted here.
Prediction: Regular season NBA ratings are up across the board: ABC averages a 2.7, the network’s best average since reacquiring rights. TNT averages a 1.4, up 27%, and ESPN averages a 1.3, up 18%. Boosted by the Heat, the first two rounds of the playoffs earn record ratings. However, the early eliminations of the Heat, Celtics and Lakers hurt ratings for the Conference Finals. The Magic/Bulls East Final puts up mediocre numbers on TNT, and the Spurs/Jazz West Final tanks for ESPN. The Spurs’ sweep of the Magic in the NBA Finals averages a 6.7 rating on ABC.
- Nostradamus Scale: 6. NBA ratings were up during the regular season and playoffs. ABC’s 3.0 average rating was the best since acquiring rights in 2002, TNT’s 1.6 U.S. rating was up 45%, and ESPN’s 1.3 rating was up 18%. TNT set cable records for the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs. However, the early eliminations of the Celtics and Lakers did not hurt ratings for the Conference Finals. The Heat/Bulls East Final earned four of the six largest NBA audiences in cable history, while the Mavericks/Thunder West Final did well enough for ESPN. With the Heat involved, the NBA Finals averaged a 10.2 rating on ABC, the best for a non-Lakers NBA Finals since 1999.
Prediction: The Spurs’ Game 4 win over the Magic is the last NBA game for a while, as the NBA lockout wipes out the entire 2011-12 NBA season.
- Nostradamus Scale: 1. For a while, it appeared as if the 2011-12 NBA season was toast, but the owners and players agreed to a collective bargaining agreement in December to preserve a 66-game mini-season.
Prediction: Baseball ratings on FOX rise slightly, but remain low (1.9). TBS earns strong numbers for the Division Series, which includes the Yankees and Red Sox in a pair of five-game ALDS. The six-game Red Sox/Rangers ALCS is a solid draw for FOX, but can’t compare to the last ALCS on the network (Yankees/Angels in ’09). Over in the NL, a Phillies/Giants rematch in the NLCS puts up decent numbers. The Red Sox/Phillies World Series averages a 10.6 rating, way up from the 2010 record low, but behind the 2009 Yankees/Phillies matchup.
- Nostradamus Scale: 7. Baseball ratings stayed flat on FOX during the regular season (1.8). Thanks in part to a less TV-friendly schedule, the Division Series was down from last year despite three five-game series — including one involving the Yankees. The Rangers/Tigers ALCS and Cardinals/Brewers NLCS were both down double-digits, with the latter ranking as the second-lowest rated LCS in history. The seven-game Cardinals/Rangers World Series, however, was up substantially from the 2010 record low, averaging a 10.0 rating.
Prediction: The Daytona 500 hits a three-year high in ratings on FOX. Overall, NASCAR ratings rise on FOX, TNT and ESPN, though ESPN’s Chase for the Cup ratings remain extremely low compared to past years.
- Nostradamus Scale: 8. The Daytona 500 was up from 2010, but remained the second-lowest rated ever on FOX. Ratings increased for seventeen of the 29 NASCAR races that could be compared to 2010, including seven of the nine Chase For the Cup races that were run as scheduled. Even though up from last year, the Chase ranked as the second-lowest rated ever.
Prediction: In the first year of a new TV deal, NCAA Tournament ratings are mediocre on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV individually — with CBS seeing its worst numbers in years. However, the combined audience across the four networks is up from last year.
- Nostradamus Scale: 10. Indeed, ratings for the NCAA Tournament were nothing to brag about on each of the individual networks. The combined numbers on CBS and Turner Sports, however, were up 7% from last year and the highest since 2005.
Prediction: NHL ratings continue to rise, but the league’s shortest Stanley Cup Final in four years (the Red Wings’ five-game win over the Capitals) keeps NBC from topping last year’s twelve-year high.
- Nostradamus Scale: 5. Numbers for the Stanley Cup Final on NBC were down from 2010, but not for the reasons predicted. The Bruins/Canucks series lasted seven games, but was hampered by the presence of a Canadian team.
Prediction: NBC and Versus extend their television rights agreement with the NHL.
- Nostradamus Scale: 8. One did not have to be a psychic to predict that the NHL would stay with NBC and Versus. The real surprise was that the deal would last for a whopping ten years.
Prediction: Golf ratings continue to falter as Tiger Woods continues to slump.
- Nostradamus Scale: 9. Woods continued to slump in 2011, perhaps moreso than would have been expected a year ago. Golf ratings were not particularly impressive, especially for the major tournaments — ratings dropped for third and final round coverage of all four majors this year, with the lone exception of the final round of the British Open.
Prediction: Turner Sports does in fact use NBA broadcasters Marv Albert, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on NCAA Tournament coverage.
- Nostradamus Scale: 8. E.J., Kenny and Charles did join the CBS NCAA Tournament studio team, while Albert paired up with NBA partner Steve Kerr for game telecasts. Several other NBA on TNT personalities contributed to NCAA Tournament coverage, including Reggie Miller, Craig Sager and David Aldridge. But again, one did not need to be a psychic to see this move coming.
Prediction: Speaking of Ernie Johnson, Turner moves the acclaimed studio host back to the studio, and hires Jon Miller as the new voice of its Major League Baseball play-by-play coverage.
- Nostradamus Scale: 0. Nope. Johnson was set to return as Turner Sports’ lead MLB play-by-play voice this postseason, but took a leave of absence to tend to his ailing son. Even if Jon Miller seemed like a high-profile broadcasting free agent last year, none of the national networks picked him up during the season.
Prediction: FOX Sports hires Joe Morgan as an analyst for MLB telecasts. The Joe Buck/Tim McCarver/Joe Morgan booth becomes a hot topic by the end of the 2011 postseason.
- Nostradamus Scale: 0. It would have been fun to see the reaction to this hypothetical move. However, Morgan — like Miller — did not join any of the networks during the baseball season.
Prediction: ESPN completely overhauls ESPN Classic, turning it into what amounts to a dumping ground for sports that can’t fit on ESPN2′s schedule. There is still some ‘classic’ programming left, but it’s limited to a two-hour early morning block.
- Nostradamus Scale: 0. Nope.
Prediction: Comcast/NBC wins the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games.
- Nostradamus Scale: 10. Again, this was not going out on much of a limb. Comcast’s NBC Universal acquired the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, as well as the 2018 and 2020 Olympics.