Behind the Broadcast: Super Bowl didn’t score ‘50,’ but did set record

Once again, my bold prediction of a 50 rating for the Super Bowl didn’t come to pass, but it wasn’t

Once again, my bold prediction of a 50 rating for the Super Bowl didn’t come to pass, but it wasn’t a bad guess, considering a record was set.

Fox’s Super Bowl XLV coverage of the Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday averaged 111 million viewers, Fox and Nielsen Media Research announced Monday.

It is the most-watched television program in U.S. history, topping the prior old mark of 106.5 set last year during Super Bowl XLIV on CBS, and the 106.0 million for the series finale of “M*A*S*H,” which held the viewership record from 1983 to 2010.

Fox also became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time. Fox had a special airing of the very popular show, “Glee.”

The game posted a 46.0/69 household rating/share, tying Super Bowl XXX in 1996 (Dallas-Pittsburgh) as the highest-rated since Super Bowl XX in 1986 (48.3/70, Chicago vs. New England). Only eight of the 45 Super Bowls played had a higher rating, and all were played in a nine-year span between 1978 and 1986.

I think a 50 rating is coming. However, the NFL could hurt itself by locking out the players.

The sport has never been more popular. More and more people are watching the game on TV. But now, we will be inundated with labor talk and speculation about how the two sides will be divvying up billions of dollars in revenue.

If we continue to be saturated with labor talk and there is no agreement, it is sure to drive fans away. In this troubled economy, where most NFL fans are pinched, hearing either side crying that they are poor won’t be well received.

The NFL and the players union would be wise to get a deal done soon. Otherwise, the dream of a 50 rating for the Super Bowl will be about as possible as, say, Christina Aguilera getting the lyrics to our National Anthem right.

Basketball news

Some college basketball news for you.

u Siena’s MAAC men’s basketball game at Fairfield on Feb. 25 will be televised by ESPN2, it was announced Monday.

It marks the fourth straight year Siena has played the one allotted MAAC regular-season game on ESPN2. But it may not be a good thing.

The Saints have been beaten handily in their last three appearances on ESPN2 in MAAC games. In 2008, Rider rolled to an 89-75 win over Siena at the Times Union Center. The last two seasons, the Saints suffered lopsided losses at Niagara on ESPN2.

Also on Feb. 25, ESPNU will have the MAAC game between Iona and Saint Peter’s at 9 p.m.

u On Thursday, CBS and Turner Sports announced the tip times for the NCAA men’s basketball tourn­ament First Four games, as well as the first two rounds.

The First Four games, which will be televised by TruTV, formerly known as Court TV, March 15-16, will start at 6:30 and 9 p.m.

CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV will carry the first two rounds March 17-18.

CBS’ tip-off times are noon, 2:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m.

TNT’s start times are 2, 4:30, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m.

TBS’ games will begin at 1:30, 4, 6:45 and 9:15 p.m.

TruTV will have games at 12:30, 3, 7:15 and 9:55 p.m.

NHL staying?

Could the NHL be staying on NBC and Versus for a while? reported this week that the two networks that have the national TV rights for the NHL are in talks to keep the league on their networks between four and seven years.

The recent merger of NBC Universal and Comcast, owners of Versus, is playing a big role in this. Monday’s telecast of the New York Rangers-Detroit Red Wings game on Versus had the feel of a Sunday afternoon game on NBC. Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk called the game, and “Inside the Glass” reporter Pierre McGuire was added to the broadcast.

This is the final year of the contract between the NHL, Versus and NBC. Versus paid close to $75 million when the NHL ended its lockout in 2004-05. NBC made a revenue-sharing deal with the NHL, and didn’t pay a rights fee.

Now, with the NHL more pop­ular than ever, the league is banking on increasing its rights fee. And NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, who is now running Versus, would like to make the NHL the centerpiece of both networks.

Also, a deal that keeps the NHL on Versus would most likely shut out ESPN, which had the rights up until the lockout. Many people think the NHL would get more attention if it were on ESPN because it reaches more cable homes, but the NHL is treated like a second-class citizen on the network. Its focus is on the NBA, NFL, college basketball and major league baseball.

However, I think it would be good to have a second cable home for the NHL. It works for the NBA, with ESPN and TNT. We’ll see how the negotiations play out.

Categories: Sports

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