Sunday Scramble on Football Field and on Wall Street

Rash Report: NFL Got the Viewers but Some May Have Surfed to CNBC

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It was another Sunday of hurried huddles, scrambling and calling audibles. Only the quarterback wasn't Brett Favre and the team the New York Jets, but Henry Paulson and the New York Federal Reserve Bank, as the Treasury Secretary met with Wall Street chiefs in a bid to contain the financial crisis.
The usual Sunday ritual of NFL football, including Brett Favre's Jets losing to new New England quarterback Matt Cassel, was just one of the good games on Fox, CBS and NBC.
The usual Sunday ritual of NFL football, including Brett Favre's Jets losing to new New England quarterback Matt Cassel, was just one of the good games on Fox, CBS and NBC. Credit: AP

CNBC was at its best during a day when it's usually at its worst, as the Sunday schedule of infomercials, reality and personal finance shows yielded to analysis of the U.S. crisis as well as coverage from CNBC Asia as markets opened overseas.

Of course, concurrently there was the usual Sunday ritual of NFL football, including Brett Favre's Jets losing to new New England quarterback Matt Cassel, just one of the good games on Fox, CBS and NBC. Final live and same-day ratings for the afternoon games aren't yet available, and the primetime games are based on Nielsen fast affiliate ratings, but once again the NFL scored, giving NBC a dominant win. The Sunday night game between division foes Pittsburgh and Cleveland delivered a 6.3/16 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18 to 49 demographic until 11 p.m. (when fast affiliate ratings end). Lead-in "Football Night in America" posted a 3.7/7 as the network delivered an overall 5.4/14.

"60 Minutes" bumped
CBS was second with an overall 3.0/8, fueled by football itself, as the late game overrun delivered an approximate 6.5/20. This bumped the "60 Minutes" journalists back about 44 minutes, giving the show a big viewer handoff. But "60 Minutes" fumbled about half of the audience, as the 8-8:30 p.m. delivery was 2.8/8. "Big Brother" (2.3/6), "Cold Case" (1.6/4) and the first half hour of 'CSI: Miami" (1.5/4) followed.

Fox, which didn't have a late game, got sacked at 7 p.m. with two repeats of "The Simpsons" (1.6/5 and 1.8/5). But the network improved at 9 p.m., running an encore of the "Fringe" premiere, which delivered a 2.3/6, giving the network a third place 2.1/6.

ABC essentially tied on the adult rating but was one share-point below with an overall 2.1/5, as repeats of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.16), "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (2.3/6) and a two-hour "Desperate Housewives" (1.9/5) combined for typical rerun ratings.
CNBC was at its best during a day when it's usually at its worst, with Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, taking time to discuss 'Black Sunday.'
CNBC was at its best during a day when it's usually at its worst, with Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, taking time to discuss 'Black Sunday.' Credit: CNBC

The CW also ran second showing, but came in fifth place, with "One Tree Hill" (.5/1), "Privileged" (.8/2) and "America's Next Top Model" (1.2/3) combining for a .8/2.

Tonight, ESPN's "Monday Night Football" features the highly-hyped Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys match-up. And Sunday should continue the NFL hit parade, as the Cowboys take on the Green Bay Packers. This will come after both Fox and CBS have late games, which should spike prime-time ratings.

Hopefully, next Sunday's meltdowns will be on the sidelines, not the side streets around Manhattan's financial district. Because despite how well CNBC covered "Black Sunday," giving the reporters and analysts a "bye" week may give them -- and worried Wall Street -- a chance to relax and do what most would rather be doing -- watch some football.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: Now known more for being tabloid fodder due to his marriage to Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt's acting chops are generally obscured. But beyond his role in last weekend's top-grossing film, the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading," Pitt stars in two cable movies tonight, "Babel" on The Movie Channel and "Troy" on AMC.
Tuesday: Say goodbye -- or good riddance, depending on your taste -- to TV's most successful summer show, ABC's "Wipeout," which has its season finale.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Last week ESPN's "Monday Night Football" blitzed its way into the Top Ten shows and should be able to again with the Cowboys and Eagles.

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.
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