Jets, Giants becoming must-see TV
November 25, 2008 Urgent memo to CC Sabathia: It's not always like this around here!
Seriously, it's a baseball town, always was, always will be. The NFL usually is what we watch in these parts just to avoid talking to relatives during the holidays.
Even the last time we had two teams this good, in the autumn of 1986, Big Town still was basking in the afterglow of a World Series winner.
Now? The last major-league games played here were two months ago Friday, and the free-agent buzz so far has been limited mostly to the $140-million offer sitting on Sabathia's to-do list.
You want numbers to illustrate this? We have numbers:
Even before Sunday's twin- killings of first-place opponents, the Jets and Giants were first and fourth in the league in local ratings increase compared with that point in 2007, rising 33 and 13 percent, respectively. (The Falcons and Titans ranked second and third.)
The Giants were averaging 14.4 percent of homes in the New York market and the Jets 12.6, averages that will rise after Sunday, when the teams scored ratings of 18.2 and 15.0.
Not that New York suddenly has become Pittsburgh or Green Bay. The Giants' and Jets' local market ratings still ranked 28th and 31st overall.
(Only the Raiders were lower than Gang Green.)
But when you factor in the percentage increases, and the fact that New York often trails other cities for sports ratings because of its diversity and the sheer size of the market, the figures are impressive.
Through last week, the Giants and Jets rank first and second in average number of households watching in home markets, at 1.068 million and 938,000, respectively.
Numbers such as those get the attention of TV networks when it comes to national appeal.
The Giants have been a consistent draw recently, for example attracting 22.3 million viewers in Week 8 against the Steelers and 23.3 million the next Sunday against the Cowboys.
But the big change nationally is the Jets, who suddenly matter, thanks mostly to their quarterback. The eye-opener came in Week 2, when the slot featuring Patriots-Jets attracted 25.4 million viewers, the most for a September Sunday game since at least 1991.
The Jets' appeal was illustrated by CBS protecting the Titans game from being moved to prime time - a call made in early October, before anyone knew either team would be this good. (Fox protected Sunday's Giants game against the Cardinals and this weekend's against the Redskins.)
How would the league and NBC feel about a Jets-Giants Super Bowl? Fine. The ratings for the Subway Series in 2000 were mediocre, but the Super Bowl mostly is matchup-proof. Even if it weren't, the Jets and Giants have enough of a national profile to draw casual viewers.
The real intrigue is what will happen in the conference finals if the Giants (probable) and Jets (possible) both host championship games.
Giants Stadium cannot stage two games Jan. 18, so one must move to Saturday or Monday.
The NFL has not announced what it would do, but a logical solution would be to leave the AFC game in its scheduled evening slot Sunday and move the NFC to Monday night.
Unlike CBS, Fox does not feature highly rated entertainment programming on Mondays, making a move easier to execute.
Saturday is problematic because viewership tends to be lower that night, and there might be competitive concerns for the team that played in the divisional round the previous Sunday.
We'll see. Our (temporary) football town would consider that an excellent problem to have.
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Jets, Giants Becoming Must-see Tv
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