‘Football Night in America’ & ‘Sunday Night Football’ Mid-Season Report
via press release:
“There is a new king of primetime this fall…it’s football.” – Baltimore Sun
“Must-see TV.” – Sports Illustrated & New York Daily News on ‘Football Night in America’
“NBC illuminated this issue.” – ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on helmet-to-helmet hits
NEW YORK – November 3, 2010 – At the midpoint of the 2010 NFL season, “Football Night in America” is generating record viewership (8.2 million viewers per show) as well as unprecedented critical acclaim by offering credible, hard-hitting opinions. “Sunday Night Football” is the No. 1 primetime program on television, its viewership is up 13 percent vs. a year ago, it has been the most-watched Sunday night show every week this season so far, and has set multiple viewership milestones.
Following are highlights of both programs at the midpoint of the 2010 NFL season:
“FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA”
BEST VIEWERSHIP EVER
“Football Night in America” (7:30-8:15 pm) is averaging 8.2 million viewers through its first eight weeks, its most ever for that time frame and up 15 percent vs. 2009’s 7.1 million viewers. Viewership for “Football Night” through eight weeks:
1. 2010 8.2 million
2. 2009 7.1 million
5. 2006 6.5 million
3. 2008 6.2 million
4. 2007 6.0 million
On Sunday, October 17, a number of illegal helmet-to-helmet hits occurred, sparking “Football Night” analysts Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy to suggest that suspensions, not fines, needed to be implemented as discipline.
Harrison, who was one of the most fined players in NFL history, said: “I’ve had plenty hits like this, and fining me $5 or $10 grand really didn’t affect me…You have to suspend guys.”
Dungy concurred: “I agree with Rodney…If you take that playing time away, that’s how you stop it.”
These comments sparked an immediate reaction from the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell and EVP, Football Operations Ray Anderson announced increased discipline for illegal helmet-to-helmet hits and publicly admitted that their decisions were affected by Harrison’s and Dungy’s comments.
The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and ESPN not only reported on “Football Night’s” comments, but also quoted Anderson as saying he was influence by the comments.
“They (Harrison & Dungy) underscored what folks have surmised, and that is, fines don’t do it,” Anderson said to the New York Times. “Fines, in some people’s situations, are just the cost of doing business.”
ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown said, “…NBC illuminated this issue and…shined a spotlight on the issue” and “Goodell actually said, ‘We’ve got to listen to this.’”
WHEN DUNGY SPEAKS, COACHES & PLAYERS REACT
As one of the most credible NFL voices on television, Tony Dungy’s opinions often have a profound affect on the league’s players and coaches. Following are three consecutive weeks in October where Dungy’s comments provoked reaction by NFL players and coaches.
“Football Night in America” – Week 7 (Oct. 24)
With no dominant team in the NFC, Dungy offered the Seattle Seahawks as the conference’s best team, which caused numerous members of the Seahawks to respond.
DT Kentwan Balmer: “He’s a smart man, a smart man. Tony Dungy’s a great coach and a great man, and I like to hear it, but we’ve got to go out and prove it. We’ve got to put it on the grass.”
LB David Hawthorne: “It’s always good to get national recognition, and I hope at the end of the year after we’ve proven ourselves that people will still be thinking that way.”
RB Leon Washington: “Coming from Tony Dungy, if it came from anybody else, I’d say, ‘Don’t take the cheese. Just stay the course.’ We’ll take the compliment, but we’ve got to stay focused on what we’re doing.”
DB Lawyer Milloy: “It gives me more motivation to keep us focused.”
“Football Night in America” – Week 7 (Oct. 24)
Dungy criticized the play of Jay Cutler, including his mechanics and the following: “Jay is making some bad decisions right now.”
Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he respected Dungy but disagreed that Cutler’s mechanics were flawed. “I have a respect for my mom, my wife, my sons, and everyone else, too,” Smith said. “But I’m just saying on one play, and some of the bad plays, yeah, you can say the mechanics were off, that he didn’t have his feet set. Yes, you can say that. Normally, on bad plays, that was the case. But that wasn’t the case throughout the entire day…But it’s hard for me to say a whole lot when we have that many turnovers right now. So we won’t say a whole lot.”
“Football Night in America” – Week 6 (Oct. 17)
Dungy on Tony Romo: “Part of being a leader at the quarterback position is protecting the football. You’ve got to do that to be a great quarterback.”
Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips: “When we played against him [Dungy] at Pittsburgh he made a few turnovers himself. Bradshaw and their backup had gotten hurt. Dungy came in and I believe he fumbled the first snap…Tony Dungy, he’s been a great coach in this league. I don’t know what he said [Sunday] but I know that going into the New Orleans game last year he said they were going to kill us and we didn’t have a chance.”
Cowboys QB Tony Romo on Dungy’s comments: “He’s right. That’s a good statement. But if you look though I think a lot of it is the decision making process. We have to protect the football. That’s part of it too…”
“Football Night in America” – Week 5 (Oct. 10)
Dungy on if Norv Turner needs to take responsibility for his team’s poor play: “Well, you do. As a head coach, you’re the leader…San Diego is way, way too talented to have this happen.”
Chargers head coach Norv Turner’s response: “You make a comment, and you see a team from afar, and I understand his comment and I can relate to him,” Turner said. “It’s probably how he felt when his players let Darren Sproles return a punt and a kick for a touchdown here on a Sunday night game or when Peyton threw six interceptions against us. I understand we have work to do, and it’s like any head coach would feel after a game like that.”
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…
In addition to viewership milestones, both “Football Night in America” and “Sunday Night Football” have received impressive critical acclaim this year.
“The sincere give-and-take between Costas and Collinsworth was what these types of shows should be more about.” – New York Daily News, October 31
“Interviewer extraordinaire.” – Sports Illustrated, October 18
“Has become a revered resource.” – Sports Illustrated, October 18
“Dungy has become one of the top analysts in the business and he fits right in as a member of the outstanding cast of NBC’s ‘Football Night in America.’” – Washington Examiner, October 18
“Dungy isn’t shy about stating an opinion” – Indianapolis Star, October 15
“For someone as mild-mannered, classy, humble and nice as Tony Dungy, it’s remarkable how good he is in his role as analyst.” – St. Petersburg Times, September 23
“Unfiltered candor.” – Boston Globe, September 9
“Unusual level of frankness…He brings to the table the same tenacity that we saw on Sundays during his 15 year career.” – USA Today, August 31
“SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”
TELEVISION’S NO. 1 PROGRAM
Since the beginning of the football season, “Sunday Night Football” is the most-watched primetime show on television, including all key adult and male demos. Other viewership milestones so far this season include:
- Through the first eight weeks of the NFL season, “Sunday Night Football” is averaging 21.5 million viewers, the most for the first eight weeks of a primetime NFL package in 14 years (23.9 million in 1996 on ABC).
- The 21.5 million average is up 13 percent over last year’s 19.1 million and up 35 percent over 2008 (15.9 million) for the same time period.
- SNF has been the most-watched Sunday night program all eight weeks this season (100 percent). Last season, SNF was the most-watched Sunday night primetime broadcast in a record 15 of 16 (94 percent) weeks. In 2008, SNF won 13 of 16 (81 percent) Sunday nights after winning 11 of 16 in 2007 (69 percent) and nine of 16 in 2006 (56 percent).
- The 2010 Thursday Night NFL Kickoff was the most-watched primetime NFL game in 14 years (27.5 million for Vikings-Saints).
- The Week 1 Cowboys-Redskins game (25.3 million) was the most-watched “Sunday Night Football” game ever until surpassed in Week 7 by Vikings-Packers (25.7 million).
SNF AVERAGE VIEWERSHIP THROUGH EIGHT WEEKS
1. 2010, 21.5 million
2. 2009, 19.1 million
3. 2006, 17.3 million
4. 2007, 16.1 million
5. 2008, 15.9 million
FOUR MOST-WATCHED PRIMETIME BROADCASTS THIS SEASON ARE NFL GAMES ON NBC
Since the beginning of the NFL season on September 9, NFL games on NBC represent the four most-watched regularly-scheduled programs on primetime television.
1. 9/9/10, Vikings-Saints, 27.5 million (Thursday Kickoff Opener)
2. 10/24/10, Vikings-Packers, 25.7 million (Favre Return to Lambeau II)
3. 9/12/10, Cowboys-Redskins, 25.3 million (2010 SNF: Week 1)
4. 9/19/10, Giants-Colts, 23.1 million (“Manning Bowl II”)
5. 9/27/10, Dancing With the Stars, 21.4 million – ABC
GUINNESS WORLD RECORD
An official Guinness World Records® Adjudicator was on site at the Louisiana Superdome on Halloween night to certify that 17,777 fans attended the Steelers-Saints “Sunday Night Football” game in costume, setting a new Guinness World Record for largest Halloween gathering, defined as a group of people in costume in one place.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…
“Watching football on NBC with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth in crystal clear 1080i high definition, with the best current sports theme music and direction that doubles as story-telling is one of the best television watching-experiences in sports.” – Yahoo! Sports, November 1
“The voice of the NFL.” – Washington Post, October 14
“No one is better at instantly understanding the implications of a big moment…the most-trusted voice inside the biggest spectacle on television.” – Arizona Republic, August 31
“This era’s king of NFL primetime broadcasts.” – Bleacher Report, September 8
“Gold standard by which others are measured.” – Washington Examiner, August 30
“An excellent announcer.” – Wall Street Journal, September 20
“Articulate, funny, critical when needs be.” – Toronto Globe and Mail, September 12