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September 23, 2014 at 10:26 PM

So why wasn’t Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch on Prime Time TV?

In the wake of Sunday’s 26-20 Seattle win over Denver in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, one question I’ve gotten quite a bit is why it wasn’t the Sunday prime time game on NBC.

I’ve gotten it enough that I figured I’d address it on here.

It was a question that also came up quite a bit when the schedule was released in April and Seattle got just one home prime time game and four total — teams can have a max of five.

One theory, put forth by ProFootballTalk.com, is that the NFL was wary of giving Seattle too many home prime time games because the Seahawks have been so dominant at home the past two years, causing decreasing ratings in the second halves of blowouts. Richard Sherman alluded to that a few weeks ago when he noted that Seattle had just one home prime time game and told reporters that “I’ll let you guys speculate the reasons.”

As was no surprise, no one in an official capacity gave that as the reason.

And others noted that scheduling is complex (read this Peter King story for some insight on that) and involves following lots of different rules and satisfying lots of different entities.

One of those entities is CBS, which also likes to have some good games in its afternoon time slot, as well.

As you may have noticed, the game didn’t start until 1:25 p.m., the latest a Sunday afternoon game can start.

That’s not by accident. CBS asked a few years ago if it could start games in that time slot a little later, in part so that they would end after 7 p.m. on the East Coast and then count as being in prime time. It’s also worth noting that contrary to what might be thought, the Sunday afternoon time slot, whether on FOX or CBS, is actually the most-watched of the entire NFL weekend, outdrawing the Sunday night games, as is well detailed here.

That was the case again Sunday as the overrun of the late Sunday game — which in 89 percent of the country was Seattle-Denver — was the most-watched show of the night with 27.3 million viewers to 18.03 for the NBC game, which was Carolina-Pittsburgh. And yes, while Seattle-Denver is a much more attractive game, as the story linked above detailed, the Sunday afternoon time slot regularly attracts more viewers than the NBC Sunday night game regardless of matchup.

Having a strong NFL lead-in then helped allow CBS to win the night overall, with the football game credited for helping give 60 Minutes its largest audience in 17 years.

So while some Seattle fans may have wanted the prestige of the Prime Time game, CBS — which doesn’t get a lot of Seahawks home games as it typically does the AFC— was pretty happy to have it as its own game in the afternoon time slot.

And who knows? Seattle could end up with another prime time game this season as NFL flex scheduling kicks in this year with week five.

UPDATED: CBS sent out the following press release this morning with some more ratings details on the game:

CBS Sports’ Week 3 national doubleheader coverage of THE NFL ON CBS on Sunday, Sept. 21, highlighted by the Super Bowl XLVIII rematch between Denver and Seattle in overtime (4:25 PM, ET) earned a preliminary national household rating/share of 15.8/30 (Live + Same Day), which is the highest-rated NFL game-to-date (on a Live + Same Daybasis) this season on any network, including primetime.

The rating/share of 15.8/30 is up 2% from last year’s 15.5/29 (Indianapolis-San Francisco, Buffalo-N.Y. Jets, Jacksonville-Seattle).

The game was seen by an average of 27.3 million viewers (Live + Same Day), +7% from last year’s comparable viewing average of 25.6 million.

Sunday’s national game window HH rating/share and viewer average peaked at 18.7/33 and 32.9 million viewers, respectively, from 7:30-8:00 PM, ET during overtime.

The 4:25 PM Sunday afternoon national games continue to lead all broadcasts in ratings and viewers. Through three weeks of the 2014 NFL season, the Sunday afternoon national games (4:25 PM, ET) have combined to average a national household rating/share of 15.3/30 (Live + Same Day), 19% higher than the average for the three Sunday Night primetime games (12.9/21).

The Sunday afternoon national games are averaging a season-to-date combined 26.8 million viewers (P2+, Live + Same Day), 23% higher than the 21.8million viewers (P2+) for the Sunday primetime games.

 

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