Didn't Bowl 'Em Over Ratings Aren't Superb, but big crowd brings Fox records revenues


By RICHARD HUFF Daily News Staff Writer

Sunday’s Broncos-Falcons face-off on Fox, despite a typically humongous Super Bowl audience, will go down as the second-lowest-rated NFL championship game in 28 years, according to Nielsen figures released yesterday. The Broncos’ 34-19 win averaged a 40.2 rating (percentage of the nation’s 99.4 million TV homes) and a 61 share (percentage of the sets in use), which was off 10% from last year’s Packers-Broncos game that averaged a 44.5 rating/67 share. (The lowest-rated game since 1970 was the 1990 matchup between the 49ers and Broncos, a 49ers blowout that averaged a 39.0/63.) Still, the only program in Fox’ 12-year history to generate higher ratings was the 1997 Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, which averaged a 43.3 rating/65 share. And Fox did rake in a king’s ransom in advertising money Sunday, selling 58 30-second spots during the game for $1.6 million each. That’s nearly $93 million. Plus a better-than-usual premium for ad time in the nearly eight hours of pre- and post-game falderal. According to Fox, it accumulated more than $150 million, for the highest-grossing single day of revenues in TV history.

An estimated 127,500,000 viewers watched at least a portion of Sunday’s telecast, according to Fox research, which makes it – even with the lowerhousehold ratings – the fourth most-watched Super Bowl of the ’90s and the sixth most-watched TV telecast ever. The huge influx of viewers – the game averaged 83,700,000 at any given moment – made the preview of “Family Guy” that followed the football game the second-most-watched series debut in Fox history. The animated series, which will move into the network’s prime-time lineup in March, was watched by 21,900,000 viewers. (The most-watched debut in Fox’ history was the Jan. 14, 1990, opening of “The Simpsons,” which was watched by 24,500,000 viewers.)

Ratings for “Family Guy” were off 69% from the end of the Super Bowl. Following last season’s Super Bowl on NBC, ratings fell 59% for the first half-hour of a one-hour “3rd Rock From the Sun.” An episode of “The Simpsons,” airing after “Family Guy” Sunday night, drew 19,100,000 viewers. Thanks to Sunday’s overall ratings performance, Fox has now tied NBC for the season in the advertiser-desired 18- to 49-year-old audience category. “It is a milestone,” said Giles Lundberg, senior vice president of research for Fox. Never before, he noted, has Fox been No. 1 in the advertiser-desired demographic on a seasonal basis.

No surprise, ratings for Sunday’s game fluctuated with the tenor of play on the field. The telecast peaked between 7 and 7:30 p.m., with a 41.5rating/64 share, when it appeared the Falcons still had a chance. The first half-hour of Sunday’s game was down 2% from the Broncos-Packers game last year. The last half-hour of Sunday’s game was off 20% from last year. By the end of the game – with the Falcons hopelessly beaten – the game slipped to a 38.1 rating/56 share. As could be expected, the game was a huge hit in the hometowns of the teams involved. In Denver, 83% of the televisions on were tuned to Fox. And in Atlanta, 79% of the sets on were tuned to the game, generating the highest numbers for a Super Bowl ever in Atlanta. Locally, 56% of the sets turned on were tuned to WNYW/Ch. 5’s telecast of the Super Bowl.