Debate or game? Chicagoans vote with their remotes

Ouch. (Reuters)

Election day isn’t for another two weeks, but Chicagoland viewers already had a tough choice to make Monday night – the Lions-Bears game or the third Obama-Romney Presidential Debate?

Turns out Chicagoans preferred Obama and Romney over Jay Cutler and Ndamukong Suh.

But it was close, according to Nielsen Media Research. Monday night, the Bears-Lions game delivered a 16.8 household rating for ESPN and a 12.3 for WCIU, while in Detroit, the game delivered a 7.3 rating for ESPN and a 15.1 rating for Scripps-owned WXYZ-TV, which pre-empted ABC’s debate coverage to carry the game, according to information provided by ESPN Media Zone. However, the combined 29.1 rating was down 10 percent from the combined 32.5 rating the Bears-Cowboys MNF game earned on October 1.

Back in Chicago, the game drew 1.69 million viewers over both channels, while the debate drew 1.71 million viewers over several broadcast and cable channels, while Game 7 of the NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants on Fox didn’t resonate with Chicago viewers.

Nationally, the game – or Game 7 of the NLCS – was no match for the debate, which focused on foreign policy (for the most part.) Obama and Romney drew 59.2 million viewers over several channels with 11.5 million of them going to Fox News. The Bears-Lions game drew 10.7 million for ESPN (a season low), while the NLCS drew a surprisingly large 8.1 million viewers. Still, it was the lowest-rated game 7 ever for a MLB playoff game.

As for ESPN’s coverage of the game – yours truly thinks Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden are the best broadcasting team in the NFL, better than Jim Nantz and Phil Simms and far better than Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (Fox’s broadcast would improve greatly if  just replace Buck, period.) Too bad Tirico and Gruden can’t do a Super Bowl – they’re more than worthy of the honor.