Viewers bail on Bears-Rams snoozefest

Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams runs for a first down against the Chicago Bears in the first half of a NFL football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, November 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Boring game between two large-market teams doesn’t resonate

(Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 8:58 p.m. with more ratings information. – T.H.)

You have to question why both NBC and the NFL refused to flex out Sunday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams, two teams who made the playoffs last year but are struggling this season.

And as you can see, the ratings results were not exactly great as both teams put up only 24 points as the Rams beat the Bears 17-7.

According to final numbers released by Nielsen, Sunday’s Bears-Rams game drew just 16.85 million viewers and a 9.7 household rating, down tremendously from the 20 million viewers the previous week’s Vikings-Cowboys game earned. According to Sports Media Watch, it is the lowest-rated and least watched Week 11 game in a dozen years.

Moreover, the game was down from last year’s Week 11 matchup (Vikings-Bears), down 9 percent and 11 percent in ratings and total viewers, respectively.

In the adults 18-49 demo, the Bears-Rams game drew a 5.1 rating, the lowest demo for a Week 11 game since NBC acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football in 2006.

Locally, the Bears-Rams game drew a 28.9 household rating and 46 share for NBC-owned WMAQ in live-day, overnight figures – down tremendously from the Bears’ last primetime appearance against the Washington Redskins. The season opener against the Packers did a 35.3.

In Los Angeles, the game earned a 14/27 for NBC-owned KNBC, notably behind four other markets (Chicago, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, and San Diego.)  Both the Rams and the Chargers – who relocated from San Diego in 2017, aren’t strong draws in the nation’s second-largest market who just four years ago had no professional football team.

Even worse for NBC, Sunday’s Patriots-Eagles games on CBS, which went out to most of the country at 3:25 p.m., was the day’s highest-rated and most-watched football game with 24.9 million viewers and a 14 household rating, blowing the Bears-Rams contest out of the water.

Sunday’s Bears disaster – all together now – still outdrew everything else in prime-time both locally and nationally and is the most-watched program in Chicago for the week. Viewers for the most part are shifting their entertainment programming preferences to on-demand or streaming as live same-day numbers for such fare really no longer resonates (one of the reasons why this blog stopped doing start-of-the-season ratings roundups.)

There’s really not much to say about the Bears after this latest loss, as many picked the team to be Super Bowl-bound. What’s been said about team in 2017…2016…2015…2014, etc. still resonates as the goofballs who run Chicago’s Lakefront NFL Team just doesn’t get it.

And neither does the league or NBC. This is yet another embarrassing loss on the prime-time stage – and there have been a lot over the last decade. At least the NBA had the sense to reduce the number of Bulls games televised nationally after they were responsible for some of the least-watched prime-time games (on ABC) in NBA history. Too bad the NFL doesn’t have the same instinct.

If there’s any indication, the Bears are headed back to mostly noon Sunday starts next season. Or so we hope.


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