ESPN last week revealed the ratings increases seen in its 2021 Monday Night Football presentations, and on Tuesday, NBC, Fox and CBS all reported similar jumps in viewership for this season.
Sunday Night Football on NBC, which will broadcast Super Bowl LVI next month, averaged 19.3 million viewers in total audience delivery for the regular season. The network says that average is up 11% from last year, and the marquee broadcast is on pace to finish as the number one primetime TV show in all key metrics for the 11th consecutive year.
The most-watched contest was Tom Brady’s return to New England in October, when 27.2 million tuned in. The season opener featuring Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl celebration and the Bucs’ game against the Dallas Cowboys came in at 25.2 million.
Fox averaged just over 18.5 million in viewership this season, a mark the network says outperformed the last four years.
Its marquee game window, dubbed America’s Game of the Week, averaged 23.141 million viewers. Fox says the broadcast, led by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, is projected to finish as the most-watched program in all of TV for the 13th straight year.
Meanwhile, CBS celebrated 2021 being its most-watched regular season in six years, averaging 18.034 million viewers. That number turned out to be a 9% increase over last year.
The network’s marquee game presentation, featuring Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, averaged an audience of 21.588 million. That was highlighted by the huge rating generated by the Cowboys/Raiders game on Thanksgiving Day.
The Thanksgiving game averaged 40.802 million viewers and was the most-watched regular season game on any network in 31 years. Only two other telecasts in calendar year 2021 did better: Super Bowl LV (92.509 million) and the AFC Championship (42.336 million).
Overall, the NFL this season continued to prove that the league is a ratings juggernaut.
ESPN, Omaha Productions Expands Places Franchise into Hockey, College Basketball, Tennis
“PK Subban will host PK’s Places focused on hockey, Sue Bird will host Sue’s Places focused on college basketball, and John McEnroe will host McEnroe’s Places focused on tennis.”
Peyton’s Places has been one of the great successes in terms of original series on ESPN+. The franchise, which began with Peyton Manning visiting places and people integral to the history of the NFL, has expanded into new sports in recent years. Now, there are spinoffs starring Eli Manning, Abby Wombach, Ronda Rousey, Davíd Ortiz, and Vince Carter.
At Tuesday’s Disney Upfront presentation, the Manning Brothers announced three new additions to the Places family.
PK Subban will host PK’s Places focused on hockey, Sue Bird will host Sue’s Places focused on college basketball, and John McEnroe will host McEnroe’s Places focused on tennis.
“The Places franchise is all about giving fans an inside look at their favorite sport so we are excited to be adding such incredible teammates as the Places Universe continues to expand,” said Peyton. “Sue, P.K. and John will all bring a unique and colorful perspective to their sport’s history as they give viewers a look at some of their favorite places.”
In addition to the new shows, Peyton and Eli are coming back. Peyton’s Places will get a third season. Eli’s Places will get a second season.
No Timetable For Big Ten To Get TV Deal Done
“Warren told The Athletic that he wasn’t married to a deadline of having a deal to announce by Memorial Day.”
Negotiations are reportedly continuing between the Big Ten Conference and media partners to complete a new media rights deal, and conference commissioner Kevin Warren isn’t in a hurry to make an announcement.
Warren told The Athletic that he wasn’t married to a deadline of having a deal to announce by Memorial Day.
“I want to make sure we take the appropriate time to get this wrapped up, but we’re making really good progress; that’s the good thing about it,” Warren said. “It’s a great time to be in this space. And there are so many really talented people in this area. But we have a good team. We have a great conference, and so I just really look forward to making sure that these are done in a very thoughtful manner and keep our fans and our student-athletes at the center of our decisions.”
FOX Sports will remain the anchor partner for Big Ten football games, but the conference is working with its other partners like ESPN and CBS for basketball and listening to other potential suitors to add a streaming element.
“The media landscape has changed, and you think (of) the interplay between linear television and streaming,” Warren said. “We just have to really think through what fits for what the Big Ten stands for, what’s in the best interest of our fans, what’s in the best interests of our student-athletes, what’s in the best interest of our member institutions.”
The deal, when finalized, could be worth close to $1 billion and would see a modest increase in money paid out to member schools.
Kevin Harlan Angry People Thought He Was Insulting Odell Beckham Jr.
“I was furious that I took heat over that, because I wasn’t given a chance to finish what I was going to say because of what the broadcast was doing at the time.”
Broadcaster Kevin Harlan has a bone to pick with the social media mob. Harlan wants the record set straight after comments made about NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during a recent NBA Playoffs telecast.
Beckham was spotted by TNT cameras during a recent game in the Dallas Mavericks/Phoenix Suns series when Harlan pointed out that Beckham got injured during this year’s Super Bowl.
“He blew a knee in the Super Bowl on a crossing pattern,” Harlan said in response to his broadcast partner Reggie Miller, who said Harlan needed to give OBJ the correct title of Super Bowl champion.
Reaction on Twitter was outrage, as people believed Harlan was trying to take a swipe at the former Cleveland Browns/Los Angeles Rams wideout.
But Harlan, who called Super Bowl LVI on the radio for Westwood One, said that simply wasn’t the case.
“I know the NFL, I know what it meant to him,” Harlan told USA Today. “And I couldn’t finish it and I got attacked and that’s the kind of world we live in now. And I was furious that I took heat over that, because I wasn’t given a chance to finish what I was going to say because of what the broadcast was doing at the time.
“What I was going to finish saying, but I was unfortunately interrupted was, ‘And look at him walk after blowing that knee, knowing that he was a part of a Super Bowl championship performance,'” he added.
Harlan continued that the timing just didn’t work out. He thinks it’s ridiculous that people would take him out of context.
“I was going to tell a story. I know who he is. I’ve called every year of his career,” he said. “I was just going to try this thing – you just have to be so vigilant, so alert to everything that happens. I was left hanging. I took the brunt of it. I didn’t like it.”