Local fans tuned out, but telecast still drew 17 million viewers nationwide
(Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new ratings information.)
The Bears’ home finale drew some interest, if not overwhelming.
The Sunday Night Football matchup between Chicago’s NFL Lakefront Team and the Kansas City Chiefs drew a 22.3 household local overnight rating over NBC-owned WMAQ-TV according to Nielsen via the Chicago Tribune. The number is the lowest prime-time Bears game of the season (there won’t be likely as many prime-time Bears games in 2020) and even lower than some of the games in the infamous 2014 season, with a pathetic Jay Culter at QB and an even more pathetic Marc Trestman at head coach. Season-to-date ratings for Bears games are down only 6 percent from last season, though the team is lucky the decline wasn’t more.
The game wasn’t flexed out as many were suspecting (or hoping) because it featured a matchup between two quarterbacks who were in the same 2017 draft class: Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and the Bears’ Mitch Trubisky. The difference between the two is stark: Mahomes has surged, reaching the AFC Championship Game last year, while Truibsky has struggled on the field, interceptions and all – much like the quarterback he replaced. In addition, Trubisky is floundering while other quarterbacks in this draft class – Houston Texans’ DeShaun Watson and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson – are also flourishing.
And this was more evident last night as the Chiefs stomped all over the Bears 26-3.
Below-average ratings for the game locally weren’t a surprise: many people were out at holiday parties Sunday night thus, they weren’t home, and the Bears were already eliminated from playoff contention. Moreover, many of those in attendance last night were Chiefs fans, though they didn’t take over Soldier Field like Oakland Raiders’ fans did to the Los Angeles Chargers’ temporary home stadium in Carson earlier in the day.
The ratings story was a bit different nationally, as the Chiefs-Bears game on NBC drew 14.53 million viewers and around a 4.0 adult 18-49 number in preliminary fast national ratings and rose to 17.03 million viewers in final ratings released Tuesday. But compared to other SNF games, it was the third least-watched matchup of the season and was down 13 percent in viewership from last year’s comparable Week 16 game (also featuring the Chiefs but against the Seattle Seahawks) and was also down 15 percent in the key 18-49 demo (4.6).
Moreover, Fox’s late afternoon game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles drew a huge overnight rating (15.6) and is expected to surpass Chiefs-Bears when their final ratings come out. As for the evening, Sunday Night Football had a huge advantage as the other networks’ lineups were riddled with holiday specials and repeats.
With the Bears officially done in 2019 (they do have one meaningless game at Minnesota next week), it closes the book on what has to be the worst year in Chicago pro sports since 2004, the last time no Chicago pro sports team made the playoffs in a calendar year – not to mention one where three of those teams decided to remove all (non-national) over-the-air games, leaving us with only the Bears as the only team you can pick up with an antenna. Chicago’s Lakefront Team will likely stay the course in 2020, meaning long-suffering fans will be treated once again to horrible play by Trubisky and inept coaching by Matt Nagy.
Yes fans, the rebuild doesn’t start until 2021 – if were lucky. Might want to make sure those streaming service subscriptions are paid for and up to date.