Baseball lags behind NFL in ratings
Football in general - and the NFL in particular - lapped Major League Baseball as the nation's top sport many years ago. In television ratings, there's no competition between the NFL and MLB, even during baseball's showcase session.
Last week's late-afternoon NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys registered the highest ratings by a sporting event since Super Bowl XLIII. That game earned 28.4 million viewers, nearly 13 million more than Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees. We're talking about a mid-season, non-divisional game between one non-playoff qualifier (Dallas) and a wild card team (Atlanta) last season nearly doubling up against baseball teams from the nation's two largest markets in a pennant-clinching match-up.
The Yankees-Angels game did beat its Sunday night head-to-head NFL competitor - New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals - by about 1.5 million viewers, but much of that was in the New York market, where the Yankees out-rated the Giants 26.9 to 9.3. But that only masks the problem for baseball.
The NFL has earned the 15 best ratings for sporting events since the Super Bowl. Sunday's baseball game rated only No. 25, behind the NCAA men's basketball championship (No. 16), Kentucky Derby (No. 19), Daytona 500 (No. 21) and Game 4 of the NBA finals (No. 22).
This weekend, in particular, could embarrass MLB. The NFL did not schedule a Sunday night game against the World Series, mostly as a courtesy. But Sunday afternoon's match-up between Minnesota at Green Bay is the most compelling regular-season game in years. Brett Favre's return to Green Bay will garner high ratings and chances are it will surpass last week's Falcons-Cowboys game. It also will blow out Game 4 of the World Series.
MLB likely is prepared for that likelihood. But if college football ratings collectively on Saturday night surpass Game 3 of the World Series, look for some real conversations about baseball and its television future.
Big Ten Wrestling
The Big Ten Network has loaded up on wrestling coverage this year, airing nine duals, the Midlands Classic and the Big Ten championships on television. Additionally, it will air 15 more duals on its Web site, www.BigTenNetwork.com.
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said the network has invested significant money to air wrestling live online. Most of the televised duals will air on tape delay to work around basketball schedules and to avoid head-to-head battles against the NFL, Silverman said.
"We're excited about moving wrestling forward, but each of these sports have their own set of challenges," Silverman said. "It takes a little more thought than I think people initially realize.
"We want to grow it, that's one of our big priorities but it's kind of counter intuitive, where we think growing it is not necessarily airing it live all the time. We're giving it a little more attention and care. If it works, we can see ourselves doing pre-game and post-game wrestling coverage."
Big Ten Network will stream Iowa's duals against Northern Iowa (Dec. 10), Penn State (Jan. 29), Michigan State (Jan. 31), Northwestern (Feb. 12) and Wisconsin (Feb. 21). The network will televise Iowa's duals against Oklahoma State (Jan. 17) and Ohio State (Feb. 19) via tape delay, while airing live the Iowa-Minnesota dual on Feb. 14.
NFL Network to load up on Packers-Vikings
The NFL Network will re-air the 2000 overtime game between Green Bay and Minnesota at 8 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Here's the network description:
The network's weekly show "Greatest 4th QTRs" will highlight former games between the Vikings-Packers, Seahawks-Cowboys and 49ers-Colts. It airs at 8 p.m. Thursday. Here's the network's description:
ESPN to air Iowa's next 2 football games
Iowa's football team gets the ESPN treatment the next two weeks. Mark Jones and Bob Davie will call this Saturday's game against Indiana.
Here's Saturday's college football line-up:
11 a.m. games
Afternoon games (2:30 p.m. unless noted)
Sunday's NFL line-up