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Which NFL City is Most Obsessed With Football?

September 12, 2007 12:12 PM

One sports media personality said to me a couple of weeks ago that the fun of watching sports is about 80 percent anticipation. Apparently, anticipation played a big part for fans in the Pittsburgh and Buffalo television markets which ranked at the top in share of the first week of ratings.

National anticipation for the new NFL season paid big dividends as ratings come in for the various telecasts on CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN for the first games of the season. The results could also give an early indication as to who, exactly, is the most football obsessed city in the country, although NFL games came in first place in the local ratings in all 30 NFL television markets tying the previous record set in week 17 of 2003.

According to Nielsen television ratings numbers, fans in Pittsburgh and Buffalo led the country in share of audience watching NFL games on television this week, with Pittsburgh ranking first in the country as 66 percent of household television sets tuned in to the Steelers/Browns game on Sunday.

Buffalo fans ranked right behind claiming a 64 share of television sets during the Bills loss to Denver on Sunday. In fact, 14 of the 30 markets that have professional football teams, had household shares of 50 or better when their prospective teams were playing with New Orleans, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis also scoring a 60 share or better.

On a national basis, NFL games accounted for the three most watched programs of the week from Sept. 3-9, with Fox’s doubleheader game on Sunday (generally Bears vs. Chargers) scoring 22.1 million viewers followed by the Giants vs. Cowboys Sunday night opener on NBC with 18.2 million and the Saints vs. Colts Thursday night Opening Kickoff game also on NBC with 17.8 million.

Meanwhile, the special season-opening doubleheader of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” delivered the network’s two highest ratings of the year and the second- and third-largest household audiences on cable this year with the Bengals win over the Ravens earning an 8.6 rating, representing 11.1 million viewers. The second half of the doubleheader featuring the 49ers and the Cardinals pulled in 8.5 million fans. Those two scores rank behind only Disney Channel’s “High School Musical 2” in cable ratings so far this year.

Below is the chart of the markets with household rating, share and timeslot rank of the 30 NFL markets.

Week of Sept. 3-9

HH

HH

Rating

Market

Game

Date

Rating

Share

Rank

New Orleans

Saints @ Colts

9/6/07

46.6

63

1

Indianapolis

Saints @ Colts

9/6/07

45.0

63

1

Pittsburgh

Steelers @ Browns

9/9/07

37.6

66

1

Dallas

Giants @ Cowboys

9/9/07

33.5

48

1

Buffalo

Broncos @ Bills

9/9/07

33.5

64

1

Cleveland

Steelers @ Browns

9/9/07

31.5

55

1

Milwaukee

Eagles @ Packers

9/9/07

30.8

60

1

Tampa Bay

Bucs @ Seahawks

9/9/07

29.4

48

1

Kansas City

Chiefs @ Texans

9/9/07

29.3

55

1

Minneapolis

Falcons @ Vikings

9/9/07

28.0

62

1

Jacksonville

Titans @ Jaguars

9/9/07

27.1

47

1

Chicago

Bears @ Chargers

9/9/07

26.9

51

1

Boston

Patriots @ Jets

9/9/07

26.3

51

1

Nashville

Titans @ Jaguars

9/9/07

25.5

47

1

Philadelphia

Eagles @ Packers

9/9/07

24.9

52

1

San Diego

Bears @ Chargers

9/9/07

24.1

49

1

Denver

Broncos @ Bills

9/9/07

23.8

55

1

Washington, DC

Dolphins @ Redskins

9/9/07

23.3

54

1

Detroit

Lions @ Raiders

9/9/07

23.0

42

1

Charlotte

Panthers @ Rams

9/9/07

23.0

41

1

Seattle

Bucs @ Seahawks

9/9/07

22.6

50

1

Miami

Dolphins @ Redskins

9/9/07

21.2

37

1

Houston

Chiefs @ Texans +
Bonus Coverage

9/9/07

21.9

39

1

St. Louis

Panthers @ Rams

9/9/07

18.7

40

1

Phoenix

Bears @ Chargers

9/9/07

16.2

31

1

Baltimore

Saints @ Colts

9/6/07

15.4

24

1

New York

Giants @ Cowboys

9/9/07

14.6

24

1

Atlanta

Falcons @ Vikings

9/9/07

13.8

28

1

Cincinnati

Saints @ Colts

9/6/07

13.4

22

1

SF-Oakland

Lions @ Raiders

9/9/07

11.5

30

1

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Comments (6)

Witz:

I'd love to see a comparison to ratings in Los Angeles for USC or UCLA games!

Bill Magliocco:

So when did the Packers move to Milwaukee? Last time I checked, Green Bay was at least 125 miles away, and in its own TV market. It would be interesting to report the share for WLUK (Fox affil) there.

Domenic Vadala:

There are no fans in this country as rabid as those of the Washington Redskins. They've sold out for at least thirty years straight, and they have the biggest stadium in the league. That said, 92,000 people (myself included) didn't get to see the Redskins on TV this past weekend, because they were at the game in person. I'm not saying that Pittsburgh and Buffalo don't have great fans also, but the Steelers were away, so naturally they had a great rating because all of the fans in their home market watched the game on TV. The Bills have had problems selling out for years, so presumably a lot of people saw that game on TV as well.

Andrew Miller:

Just to correct the above statement, the Bills haven't had problems "selling out games for years." They have trouble selling out games in December. The Ralph is one of the larger NFL stadiums although it is a small market. The home opener last week was sold out. If seating in the Ralph was equivalent to the smallish Gillette stadium (let's remind ourselves they are a big market) it would sell out every week.

Bills Fan:

Domenic Vadala:

The Bills also had 71,000+ fans in their stadium watching the game.

Besides, think about what the numbers are saying...it is showing how important the team is to their city as a whole...it doesn't reflect whether Bills fans are better than Skins fans...it's more of a reflection on the importance of football onto the whole populace. DC has a much larger population and plenty of other distractions...politics, monuments, yadda yadda yadda. Buffalo, also a beautiful city cares about hockey and football...that is what these numbers say.

Pittsburgh and Buffalo also have the nation's highest NHL ratings as well. Those cities are rabid sports towns and support their teams very well (except the Pirates...)

To Bill: Green Bay won't get ratings until after November, as that city isn't a metered market and rely only on diaries. The Packers have a huge fan base in Milwaukee, as they are in the same state.

I'm surprised the Bears didn't crack the top 10 on that list. The Cubs game was over by 3 p.m. local time, so that shouldn't have had an effect on the ratings.

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