The 2012-13 NFL season got off to a slower start than usual Wednesday night, thanks in large part to former president Bill Clinton.
The Cowboys/Giants 2012 NFL Kickoff Game earned a 14.7 rating and 23.9 million viewers on NBC Wednesday night, according to Nielsen fast-nationals — down 8% in ratings and 12% in viewership from Saints/Packers last year (16.0, 27.189M), and down 11% and 13%, respectively, from Vikings/Saints in 2010 (16.5, 27.489M).
This marks the lowest rated and least-viewed edition of the NFL Kickoff Game since Titans/Steelers in 2009 (12.8, 20.909M). With that said, the game also ranks as the third-highest rated and third-most viewed Kickoff Game ever, behind only last year and 2010.
Among adults 18-49, the game drew a 9.7 rating — down 11% from last year (10.9) and down 9% from 2010 (10.7). The 9.7 is the lowest rating in the demo for the Kickoff Game since 2009 (8.6), but the third-best ever.
Cowboys/Giants was undoubtedly hurt by coverage of the Democratic National Convention on a variety of networks. From 10:00-11:30 PM ET, when former president Bill Clinton spoke, the convention attracted 25.121 million viewers — unusually formidable competition for an NFL game.
Compared to the last Kickoff Game to air during a political convention, Wednesday’s opener increased by 71% in ratings and 77% in viewership from Washington/Giants in 2008 (8.6, 13.531M). The 2008 game aired on the traditional Thursday night, but at an earlier time (7 PM ET). Clearly, given a choice between an early start on a Thursday and a normal start on a Wednesday, the NFL made the right decision this year.
Wednesday’s game underperformed compared to previous Cowboys/Giants matchups. The teams’ two regular season meetings last year, which both aired on NBC on Sunday nights, drew a 14.9 rating and 24.516 million viewers (Week 14) and a 15.7 rating and 27.624 million viewers (Week 17).
Overall, the game actually ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed Cowboys/Giants game since the teams played on cable network ESPN in 2010 (11.2, 17.953M).
Because of the Olympics, the NFL Kickoff Game ranks as merely the fifteenth-most viewed sports telecast of the past two months. Excluding the Olympics, however, the game ranks as the most-viewed sporting event since the BCS National Championship Game in January (24.214M).
Dallas-Ft. Worth, not surprisingly, was the top market for Wednesday’s game (34.0), followed by Norfolk, VA (26.8), Richmond, VA (24.6), San Antonio (24.5), and Austin (22.5). New York ranked eighth, with a 20.0.