Bears commit epic fail on the field but score in ratings

Bears bomb on field but not in the Nielsens

While Chicago’s public school teachers went on strike last week, it looked like the Chicago Bears joined them on the picket line as they simply decided not to show up for work at Soldier Field Sunday.

Despite a horrible performance from the Bears’ offense and from quarterback Mitch Trubisky in particular, the marquee New Orleans Saints-Chicago Bears game on Fox Sunday afternoon proved to be a huge ratings draw nationally, even with a lackluster Chicago rating and no overnight New Orleans ratings at all.

According to Nielsen, the game drew a 15.0 household overnight live-plus-same day rating, the highest week seven number for Fox in the late afternoon window in four years. Despite their small market size (50th), the Saints have been powerful draws for the major networks with three of the five highest-rated games so far this season.

Due to a change in reporting numbers effective October 3, Nielsen now delays household overnight ratings until the afternoon since the agency included out-of-home measurement. And in what seems to be a cost-cutting move, Nielsen has stopped metering overnight ratings for ten smaller markets including NFL cities Buffalo and New Orleans. Thus, overnight ratings for Saints games – or any programming in New Orleans are no longer available. The cutbacks reduces the number of Nielsen overnight markets to 46.

As for Chicago, the Bears game drew a 26 rating during the 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. local time frame, with the game peaking at 29 from 4:15 p.m.-4:30 p.m., according to the Chicago Tribune. But like the Bears’ performance, the ratings are disappointing given the games in the late afternoon window drew higher ratings this season were against the Denver Broncos and a dominant performance against the Minnesota Vikings – who by the way, destroyed the Detroit Lions Sunday.

Ratings dropped after 4:30 p.m. when it came clear the Bears would lose, as viewers stampeded toward the exits and literally so did fans at Soldier Field.

The Bears’ performance from Sunday reminds fans of their play from not too long ago when Jay Cutler was quarterbacking the team as they were getting blown out in game after game. Trubisky seems to be no better – in fact, he could be even worse. Even more troubling, Sunday’s rating was actually lower than what some of the games earned during that infamous 2014 season, even with out-of-home viewing factored in.

It is odd now that the only Chicago pro sports team available to watch on over-the-air television these days are the Bears. This may be something to be proud of, but only when the team isn’t playing like a sack of potatoes.

(Editor’s Note: The number of Nielsen overnight markets was incorrect in an earlier version of this post. – T. H.) 

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