Big ratings could be coming on Saturday night

AP

Last month, the folks at CBS were able to flex-block the showdown between the Patriots and the Broncos.  This time around, no arm-twisting or elbow-sharpening was required.

Saturday night’s prime-time showdown between the Patriots and Broncos will be televised on CBS, in prime-time.

And based on various reports compiled by SportsBusiness Daily, last year’s division-round ratings record generated by the Jets-Patriots game could be in jeopardy.

On the third Sunday of 2011, 43.5 million tuned in for a Sunday game between the AFC East rivals.  On the second Sunday of 2012, 42.4 million saw the Broncos steal one from Pittsburgh in overtime.

But the key word is Sunday.  Saturday night is typically the worst night of the week for TV ratings.  So it will be very difficult to break 40 million when the Broncos and Patriots get together once again.

Still, it’s not impossible.  And with Tim Tebow facing Tom Brady, the numbers could be much higher than expected.

One way to guarantee gargantuan ratings for games like this in the future would be to dump the Saturday-Sunday postseason format.  A better approach, from a TV perspective, could be to break out a Thanksgiving-style triple-header on Sunday for the first two playoff weekends, with games at 1:00, 4:30, and 8:30 p.m. ET.  Then, the fourth game would be played on Monday night.

The NFL hasn’t been bashful about shifting playoff kickoffs to maximize ratings.  From the sliding of the Saturday games three hours later to the 3:00/6:30 p.m. ET start time for the conference finals, creative use of the clock generates bigger audiences.

So why not get really creative and avoid Saturday completely?

As to the conference finals, let’s go one step farther and play one game in prime time on Sunday night, and the other one in prime time on Monday night.

Frankly, it’s surprising that the NFL and the networks haven’t already done it.  The only question how many more playoff cycles will elapse until they do.

58 responses to “Big ratings could be coming on Saturday night

  1. Big, big ratings. Look at that guy in the picture. You all know you want to watch him. Big time ratings. Brady will have to shake Tebows hand and say “good game, congradulations. Good luck next week.” Tebow will say “God bless you”. Now that is ratings. Big ratings.

  2. Monday night winner would be playing the next Sunday on a short week unless you play a Monday game each round and the Monday winner always plays next Monday.

  3. Time to throw-up all over my keyboard.

    Score should be about the same as first time around.

  4. Forget about all the viewers on the West Coast that have not gotten home from their jobs with the 5:30 start time. Move the start time to 6:30 PT, and the East Coast complains that the game goes too late into the evening.

    They are fine on Saturday.

  5. I predict 60 million watching: 20 million Pats fans, 10 million Broncos fans, 15 million faithful wanting to see another miracle, and another 15 million to see someone smash his face.

  6. Would you quit whining about everything and wanting to change everything? Leave it alone. Two games on days where most folks are not working and able to attend the game or view the game in entirety is a good thing!

    … a monday playoff game… hilarious

  7. From a fan’s viewpoint, I don’t see the benefit of a Sunday tripleheader. Simply too long a day, especially if you’re waiting for the late game kickoff.
    Brace yourself for lots of “I fell asleep in the 2nd half.”

    Then a Monday night game, with the winner to play for the Conference Championship in 6 days?

  8. I have to disagree. Playoff football on Saturday night is great. You can go out with friends, hopefully get to see a great game, and now have to worry about going to work in the morning.

    If the NFL does anything to alter when postseason games are played, they should move the Super Bowl to Saturday. If they’re going to play the game until 11pm EST, the least they could do is play it on a night when most of the audience doesn’t have to work the following day.

  9. I will be tuning in. I love watching an elite quarterback who can throw into tight windows, pick apart secondaries, and exploit matchup problems. Tom Brady is DEFINATELY must-see T.V.

  10. Lol, the Sportsnation poll map on espn.com is hilarious. The 49 states that Denver isn’t in are some deep shade of blue (pats win easily) and colorado is yellow (denver wins a close one).

    Cue Broncos win. Nah, I don’t really believe that.

  11. I have to imagine that Saturday night will get better ratings than a game that starts at 10am on the west coast. You also have the problem of there being west coast teams all having home field advantage. Hypothetically, SF, Dallas, Oakland and Houston all with home games in divisional rounds. League won’t take the chance of a 11 am local start time.

  12. I prefer having the Saturday night game. Get drunk, watch some playoff football and still have a day to recover. That’s what I’m talking about. Go Pats!

  13. Hey does anyone know if the Pats-Broncos game is going to be streamed on-line anywhere?? I have a formal dinner/banquet on Saturday night but I have a Android smart phone and can probably get some screen time on it during the dinner. Last week NFL network was streaming the games. Anyone know about this?

  14. Monday playoff games = worst idea ever. Keep it as is, they’re the 2 best weekends of the year. I don’t see anyone complaining.

  15. Dislike this idea completely.

    No team should get an advantage of an extra “day off” (maybe 2), nor penalized with one day shorter.

    During the season, its only one game up or down, but have the season to recover.

    In the playoffs, you lose, you are done.

    Screw the TV ratings!

    I don’t even like NFC & AFC playing on alternate days during the playoffs. One day should be for NFC and the other day for NFC. Same thought applies and if west coast travel (either way) it just makes it unfair and a distinct disadvantage to the team that travels.

    Playoffs should always have games as equal situations as possible.

  16. The only reason this would get big ratings is from all the artificial hype that is been created for this game.

    A fan of real football would much rather either of the NFC games before caring at all about Bronco’s Pats.

    I hope the ratings are poor so we can stop getting both over hyped teams shoved down our throat.

    Le’s remember the Bronco’s were 8-8 and the Patriots did not beat a team with a winning record.

  17. Maybe the league and teams think a full 7 days off are needed to be “fair” instead of one team only getting 6.

  18. Don’t like the idea Mike.Too long a Sunday. I enjoy spending the entire weekend watching playoff football(except I will be at the game Saturday night).

    Its great the world is going to watch the Pats roll over the Broncos. Nice story but as a football fan it is time for Tebowmania to end. It is getting nauseum watching ESPN ,NFLN etc.

  19. Saturday games are way better than craming them into Sunday or having Monday night games. If anything, the league should move the Super Bowl to Saturday so that more people can enjoy it without having to be half asleep the next morning at work.

  20. You don’t become relevant by constantly writing about stupid ideas simply for the sake of change. A Monday night playoff game is dumb except for a possible postponement due to horrid weather. Why penalize the winner of a playoff game by giving them less time to prepare than a typical in-season game? This isn’t a regular season game. The stakes are much higher in case you haven’t noticed.

  21. This will be huge because it’s probably the last time Tebow will have this kind of pure excitement around him. The bubble would have already burst had the Raiders simply won one of their final few games, and the parade will end here for the season.

    Next season, expectations will be higher and the division will be much more competitive. The Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers will be healthy, and the AFC West will be playing tough divisions (the AFC North and NFC South), so once again, most likely only one team from the division will make the playoffs – so it’s probably win the division or die for the Broncos.

    None of which means the team and Tebow can’t have success again next year. But the odds will be stacked higher against them next year, and they already needed a lot of luck to make it to the playoffs this year, even with an injury-decimated division. The math doesn’t support a repeat of Tebowmania next year.

  22. If they ever do go to an 18 game schedule or two more teams to 34 (which at first I thought it was a good idea, after re-thinking it not so much) down the line they could expand to 14 playoff team (7 in each league adding an extra wildcard)

    For wildcard round

    Saturday: 2, 5:30, 9 EST

    Sunday: 1, 4:30, 8

    Don’t like the idea of Monday postseason football.

  23. Saturday night is typically the worst day of the week for standard TV ratings…..not NFL Football TV ratings. Any self respecting NFL fan will be in front of their TV on Saturday night. Ratings also don’t take into account the Millions of people that will be belly up to their local sports bar watching it.

    Though I think your idea about having the confernence title games is prime time is a good one. I would prefer Having one Saturday and one Sunday. Your idea about eliminating the Saturday night game altogether is absurd.

  24. Ratings will be less for this game than last week. Game won’t be as competitive. Also, what is not written is that ratings between 6pm and 7pm went down for the Steelers Broncos game, which is around the time that Tebow was throwing for 40 yds and scoring 3 points. It looks like Tebow only draws ratings when he is doing well. Just keeping it real as Tebow conversation can sometimes turn into this imaginary glass menagerie at times.

  25. Everyone wants to see the second coming of Christ….isn’t it written somewhere that Jesus would return one day in the form of a “simple-minded man”?

    Its 2012….the Myans were right.

  26. yamchargers says:
    Jan 13, 2012 1:32 PM
    I love the current format with Saturday games! Please dont change it. If Sat night is so bad make it Sat day games.
    ___________

    Exaaaaaactly.

    Instead of having one game start after 8:00 on Saturday, why not have the games at 3:00 and 6:30 EST?

  27. prime time on Monday night.
    Nooooo!
    Why does most of the eastern time zone not see the end of MNF games? Because they have to get up in the morning.
    Besides in a couple weeks there will be an article on here saying how the SB should be in Prime Time on a Saturday. Which it should be.

  28. He’s got a point. If this would help ratings, you can all but GUARANTEE it will happen at some point.

    The hard part is figuring out some way to make the Monday night game not be a huge disadvantage in the next round. Somebody else pointed this out already, but I’d like to posit potential solutions rather than just point out the problem. I only see one way to prevent the “short week/long week” issues, and that’s to guarantee that the Monday night winner would play on the next Monday night game, no matter what.

    First off, in order to make it fair, you’d have to alternate the MNF game between the conferences every other year. One year the NFC has it the next the AFC, etc. It would need to be predictable.

    Second, they’d probably also have to be able to figure out the divisional schedule in advance BEFORE the wild-card MNF game was played. And in order for this to work, the MNF game in the wildcard round would HAVE to always be a #5 @ #4 game. This would allow the #6 @ #3 from Sunday to have already determined where the #4 or #5 will be going next week. That game would then automatically become the MNF game in the divisional round. So even before the winner is known, the destination would be set and the host city/stadium/team/etc would have the full amount of time to prepare for what day they are hosting a game. (For example, if #6 won on the wild-card Sunday they’d play @#1 on Divisional Sunday, otherwise #3 would play @#2 on Sunday. #5 or #4 would in turn always play again the next Monday. This way both affected stadiums would be sure of the maximum notice to be fully ready.)

    Third, the divisional MNF game would either be the #1 or #2 seed in the appropriate conference. But then what happens for the championships? You either have to make those on two days as well (which would work, there’s a solid two weeks before the Super Bowl after all) or you have to make the same conference have the LATE Sunday Championship game. This would still be a “short week” but at least LESS of one.

    Oh, and in instances where a shared stadium and changeable fields would matter (currently only Jets/Giants but could be others in the future) and both teams are hosting a playoff game, they would need the maximum time possible to work on the field. If the other rules aren’t violated by doing so, one should be Sunday and one Monday. If not, one is the early game on Sunday and the other is the late game, and if there’s no way to swap out the endzones in time then use one from each team.

    It’s quite a lot of work to rewrite the rules to plan this all out, but it would be doable. And let’s face it, it would actually be better than the current system. If the Lions had won last Saturday night, they would have had eight days to prepare to visit GB, while the Giants would have had only 6 days to prepare for San Fran. And right now the Broncos have had only 6 days to prepare for New England while Houston has eight days to prepare for Baltimore. In addition, whomever wins either of the Saturday games this weekend will have 8 days to prepare for their conference championship, while the Sunday games will only have seven days.

    The current system really does need to be improved, and if it can improve TV money all the more, so much the better.

  29. “So why not get really creative and avoid Saturday completely?”

    …because some of us fans will be showing up at the NFL’s main office with torches and pitchforks.

    Leave well enough alone. The playoff format is fine the way it is. It’s makes for a great weekend. Firing up the smoker all day Saturday, having brews with friends while watching football is a tradition for many. Sunday games make for a great wind-down with one final rolling of meat over the coals and a few last beers before gearing up for the weekly boring grind of work. There’s no need to change a thing.

  30. Last year I was in line at Caesar’s sports book to throw my money away on the Patriots. Guy behind me was going on and on about how Patriots were free money because they just destroyed the Jets a few weeks earlier and will do it again. I have had déjà vu all week hearing the same things about this game. I will be in Vegas an will bet on the other 3 games but won’t touch this one.

  31. smacklayer says:
    Jan 13, 2012 1:29 PM
    Hey does anyone know if the Pats-Broncos game is going to be streamed on-line anywhere?? I have a formal dinner/banquet on Saturday night but I have a Android smart phone and can probably get some screen time on it during the dinner. Last week NFL network was streaming the games. Anyone know about this?

    Smacklayer don’t take this the wrong way. You suck! Just come down w/ a nasty virus 45 minutes before kickoff.

  32. For cripe’s sake, can’t they just leave well enough alone? Two games Sat/two Sunday, each at one resp four o’clock, like the regular season. Next thing you know it’ll be a Wednesday midnite playoff game in London, so all the people in China can watch the NFL in prime time. Stop !!

  33. cowboys282 says: Jan 13, 2012 1:36 PM

    The only reason this would get big ratings is from all the artificial hype that is been created for this game.

    A fan of real football would much rather either of the NFC games before caring at all about Bronco’s Pats.

    I hope the ratings are poor so we can stop getting both over hyped teams shoved down our throat.

    Le’s remember the Bronco’s were 8-8 and the Patriots did not beat a team with a winning record.
    ___________________________________

    I know you are bitter because the cowboys couldn’t make it to the playoffs. The Pats are anything but overhyped. They have been one of the best teams this last decade and consistently win. And you act like the pats not beating a team with a winning record is such a travesty. It’s not their fault they only played two teams with winning records. Part of the reason the other teams didn’t have winning records was because the pats were kicking their ass.

  34. Not big on the Monday Night playoff game. Right now the games are on two days, and late enough those two days that productive adults who have lives can watch all 4 games.

    Hard pressed to clear a schedule for THREE football games in one day, and then one during the work week. They haven’t done it yet becuase it wouldn’t INCREASE ratings.

  35. NFL takes pride in its playoff games ending before 10 p.m. ET on school/work nights (unlike NBA and MLB). Thus the day games the first two weekends and the 6:30 start for conference championship games and Super Bowl. Now, putting a conference championship game on a Saturday and the other on Sunday would be cool.

  36. Right on, Mike, with moving the games to Sunday it would really grease it for everyone involved. One question everyone has griped about is the Super Bowl, why on a Sunday when the next day everyone has to work? Well, you answered that, TV ratings. Holding it on a Saturday would cripple the golden goose, so ad money is king, that’s why the Super Bowl will stay on Sunday night.

  37. nejerseygirl says: Jan 13, 2012 2:15 PM

    yamchargers says:
    Jan 13, 2012 1:32 PM
    I love the current format with Saturday games! Please dont change it. If Sat night is so bad make it Sat day games.
    ___________

    Exaaaaaactly.

    Instead of having one game start after 8:00 on Saturday, why not have the games at 3:00 and 6:30 EST?
    _________________________
    No freaking way! Start more games at 8:00pm est. Love the late night games. For some reason it is easier to get way more drunk at night.

  38. I guess Charles Barkley’s ‘national nightmare’ of Tim Tebow will have to continue! Lol! Go Broncos,Go Tebow!!

  39. Moving playoff games to Monday night is amazingly short-sighted. One of the reasons the NFL has prospered over the other sports is that they broadcast their games during hours when most people are available, particularly the younger generation. How many weekday playoff games do MLB and the NBA broadcast that end past midnight? The other sports could learn a thing or two from the NFL which isn’t afraid to broadcast their playoff games during the daytime hours or on non-traditonal TV nights.

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