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NFL Wild Card Games Pull In Big Ratings

“The four telecasts combined to average 7 percent more viewers than a year ago, with three of the games receiving their biggest audience in years.”

Brandon Contes

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The NFL Playoffs kicked off in a big way. Not only were the four Wild Card games a success on the field, but they all enjoyed big television ratings as well.

The four telecasts combined to average 7 percent more viewers than a year ago, with three of the games receiving their biggest audience in years. Averaging 30.5 million viewers, it was the most watched first round of the NFL Playoffs since 2016. These increases come on the heels of a successful regular season for the NFL which saw a 5 percent spike in TV ratings. 

ABC and ESPN kicked things off with their Bills-Texans telecast which garnered 26.41 million viewers. It was the most watched Wild Card game ever on ESPN and ABC, and a 14 percent increase from their 2019 broadcast.

Saturday’s second game received 31.42 million viewers on CBS, as the Titans knocked out the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. It was a 7 percent increase from last year’s late game on Saturday which was carried by FOX.

This year, FOX had the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Vikings and Saints. Minnesota’s upset of New Orleans drew 30.8 million viewers on FOX, FOX Deportes and its streaming platforms. It was the most watched Wild Card game for FOX in four years.

NBC was the only network to see a drop-off from last year, with their telecast of Seahawks-Eagles. Even though NBC declined 2 percent from last season’s 35.89 million viewers, this year’s 35.1 million made it the most watched game of the weekend.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here

Sports TV News

Peter Burns Apologizes To Ben Watson After On-Air Joke About Wife

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

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SEC Network host Peter Burns has publicly apologized to analyst Ben Watson and his wife Kirsten for an off-color joke he made during halftime of Saturday’s Florida/Vanderbilt game on the network.

While joking about Watson’s suit being lighter in color than everyone else’s on set, Watson said he didn’t care what the other hosts thought about his suit, just as long as his wife thought he looked nice, and asked her to “send the text” letting him know he looked good. Burns quipped “that’s not the text she sent me” before going to commercials. When the show returned, Burns and Watson were not on set, and the former NFL tight end insinuated the pair had a strong disagreement during the break.

Later that evening, Burns tweeted a picture of the pair with the caption #Friendship, which Watson retweeted saying Burns needed to publicly apologize. He did that Monday evening.

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

An ESPN representative had previously told OutKick the entire situation was a joke, calling it a “performance bit”, adding Watson “100% deserves an Emmy nomination”.

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Sports TV News

Rece Davis: College GameDay Needed Someone Like Pete Thamel for Years

“It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN’s College GameDay has a formula to it that has made the show work for so long. It’s not scripted at all, but it’s organized in a way that gives the show structure.

And sometimes time constraints force producers and the hosts to have to make adjustments on the fly, like eliminating segments or elements within segments.

GameDay host Rece Davis talked about it on Monday’s edition of the College GameDay podcast with ESPN senior college football writer Pete Thamel. Davis praised Thamel for his contributions to the show but acknowledged that often Thamel whose hits on the show end up struck because of time.

“All of us sacrifice some, but you’re one of the ones who take heavy hits in terms of things getting cut,” Davis said. Thamel’s tweets are often featured throughout the show, and Davis makes it a point to recognize Thamel on the air. “That’s why I try to give you a shoutout when I see the tweets pop up on the screen, which are amazing by the way.”

Davis said Thamel’s ability to provide up to the second information on relevant and timely stories in college football has been a welcomed change to the show.

“You’ve brought something to GameDay that GameDay’s desperately needed for years,” he said. “It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

GameDay will be on location this weekend for the showdown between Michigan and Ohio State. This past weekend the show was live from Montana State.

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Sports TV News

Miami Marlins Continue Broadcast Changes, Drop J.P. Arencibia

The former big league catcher worked the club’s opening road series and more than 60 games for Bally Sports Florida.

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After announcing last week that Miami Marlins play-by-play announcer Glenn Geffner wouldn’t return to the booth next year, the club continues to make changes. J.P. Arencibia won’t return as an analyst for the club in 2023.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Arencibia was informed he will no longer work on either the team’s television or radio broadcasts next season. The former big league catcher worked the club’s opening road series and more than 60 games for Bally Sports Florida. It was his first season as a television analyst. According to Jackson, the reason for Arencibia’s departure is “unclear”, adding a reason “was not offered”.

The club will continue to use a rotation of analysts in 2023, with Jeff Nelson, Gaby Sanchez, Rod Allen, and Tommy Hutton working in the booth.

Arencibia was brought on for the 2022 season after the Marlins dropped former Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth from the clubs televisions broadcasts after the previous season concluded.

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