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Tom Brady Out, Football TV Ratings Down?

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September 7th, 2008

NFL Network is reporting that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's season is over:

Reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady suffered a serious knee injury in the season opener that will end his 2008 campaign, reports NFL Network’s Adam Schefter.

Brady left Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs after being hit on the left leg. He has started 128 consecutive games, but went to the turf clutching his left knee midway through the first quarter when he was hit in the pocket by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. After being tended to on the field, he walked off, limping, between two trainers.

Beyond the fact that it's terrible when anyone gets hurt, could this have a material impact on the TV ratings for the NFL season? The NFL prides itself on marketing teams and not individuals, but when the Patriots become an ordinary team these games become significantly less attractive, and they are locked into the TV schedules:

New England @ San Diego, 10/12, NBC

Denver @ New England, 10/20, ESPN

New England @ Indianapolis, 11/2, NBC

NY Jets @ New England, 11/13, NFL Network

So, 2 of NBC's 17 Sunday Night games are likely to see fewer viewers, as are 1 of 17 ESPN Monday Night games and 1 of 8 NFL Network televised games. That could be a bit of trouble for NBC in particular since its likely banking on Sunday football to prop up what is likely to be poor fall ratings from its other shows. At least, that's the way it worked last year.

And while CBS, which carries the bulk of the Sunday afternoon Patriots games, can choose to make any of its games the "national" game, having an ordinary Patriot team does make their job a bit more difficult. 

Photo from boston.com.

 
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