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Football ratings sacked

Numbers down 5% over previous average

The NFL produced solid ratings for its opening weekend of playoff action, although numbers were down vs. the previous year’s hot averages.

Only one of the National Football League’s four wild-card games on Saturday and Sunday had much drama in the fourth quarter, sacking the ratings potential.

In Nielsen’s preliminary metered-market overnights, the four playoff games averaged a 17.1 household rating/32 share, down 5% from the previous year’s 18.0/33. National ratings will be issued later this week.

Weekend’s highest-rated contest was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 31-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS (19.9 rating/34 share). Game (4:30-7:40 p.m. ET) earned a 54.9/76 in Pittsburgh and a 45.4/68 in Cincinnati — two of the Eye’s strongest affils.

Sunday’s earlier game (1-4 p.m. ET), in which the Carolina Panthers mauled the New York Giants 23-0, delivered a 16.8/36 in the overnights on Fox, including a 41 share in Gotham and a 62 share in Charlotte.

On Saturday, the weekend’s most competitive game (4:30 p.m. ET kickoff) saw the Washington Redskins hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-10 on ABC. Contest did a 65 share in D.C. and a 52 share in Tampa.

Also on ABC in primetime, the New England Patriots’ 28-3 drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars delivered a 15.7/26 in the overnights, down 8% from last year’s corresponding (and much more competitive) game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers.

Action moves to the conference semifinal round this weekend, where ratings pick up because the top seeds play for the first time.

CBS will carry the Patriots-Denver Broncos game in primetime Saturday, and Fox will be the beneficiary of the late Sunday overrun with its coverage of the Panthers and Chicago Bears, which begins at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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