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NFL Divisional Playoff ratings continue downward trend

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With three of the four games going to the final couple of minutes undecided, you would have thought that the television ratings for the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend, including the Jaguars at the Steelers, would have been good.

Instead, they were just average.

You did have major markets involved like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston, but you also had medium to smaller markets like Nashville, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Minneapolis, too.

No Dallas, New York, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, etc. does make a difference, but the trend was again down, just like the 2017 regular season ratings.

As for the Jaguars upset of the Steelers in the 1 p.m. Eastern time slot on CBS, the game scored a national overnight rating of 20.4. While that’s a massive viewership number compared to even prime time programming, it’s the lowest number in that slot since a Ravens-Steelers AFC Divisional Game in 2002 got a 19.9.

There was no 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday Divisional round game a year ago, because NBC and the NFL moved the Chiefs-Steelers AFC match-up to a delayed 8 p.m. Eastern start due to forecasted bad weather throught the early part of that Sunday. So, the next valid comparison was the Seahawks at the Panthers 2016 playoff game that garnered a 23.1 overall rating.

CBS released local market numbers on Tuesday morning and not surprisingly, it was massive in Jacksonville:

As for the rest of the weekend, the Falcons loss at the Eagles got a 17.4 rating on NBC in the weakest (Saturday afternoon) slot. That number was down 5% from the comparable Seahawks at Falcons game in 2017.

More concerning was the defending champion Patriots one sided win Saturday night over the Titans only got CBS a small 16.6 rating. That’s down 9% from the Pats hosting the Texans a year ago and down 18% from the Packers at the Cardinals Saturday night 2016. That had to be troubling news to the league headquarters.

Still, the traditionally highly rated “late Sunday afternoon” window on the second weekend pitted the Saints at the Vikings on Fox and it had 21.8 rating for the best of the four games. However, with two non-top 20 tv markets, the game didn’t register close to the massive 28.2 rating the Packers at the Cowboys got last year.

It should be noted that game on Fox last year at 4 p.m. (and the Cowboys are the big reason) was the highest rated divisional round playoff broadcast in almost 20 years.

Still, even with the crazy dramatic win by the Vikings, it was the lowest Sunday 4 p.m. game broadcast since 2009.

One more point, these ratings are still massive for sports television, and all but one of the three games were played during the day/afternoon, where there is less audience available.

We’ll see if the Jaguars vs. the Pats in the earlier Sunday game at 3:05 Eastern and then the Vikings at the Eagles at 6:30 p.m. Eastern pick up the tv numbers.

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