New Bears season, same Bears prime-time result

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Same old Sunday Night Football story for Bears

I’m not going to bore you whining about why the Chicago Bears keep getting national prime-time TV appearances; I’ve covered the topic aplenty over the years, most recently here and here. But the decision to keep Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace around for another year is one of those “Chicago Way” type of things, although the Ricketts family and the way the Blackhawks have handled a sex scandal in their organization are giving those at Halas Hall a run for their money as it turns out the Bears do not have a monopoly on stupidity in the Chicago sports market. 

And so, the Bears opened their season Sunday Night against the Los Angeles Rams at the new SoFi Stadium in full of a very packed house (surprisingly more pro-Rams than anyone thought) – the first regular season game at the team’s new facility in nearby Inglewood, Calif., home to the Forum. The game also saw the first QB start for Andy Dalton, with rookie Justin Fields waiting in the wings.

According to Deadline – who covered this story with a heavy Los Angeles point of view (because, Hollywood), the game drew 18.4 million viewers through NBC and streamer Peacock, down 4 percent from last year’s game between the Rams and Dallas Cowboys, which was seen on NBC and streamed online on the NBC Sports App. Compared to the September 9 kickoff game featuring the Cowboys and the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, the ratings were off 28 percent. The Bears-Rams game drew the fewest viewers for a week one Sunday night football game since 2005 when ESPN had the rights. 

Whenever the Bears are featured on SNF, the late afternoon game always draws more viewers – this time, it was the Cleveland Browns-Kansas City Chiefs game on CBS, drawing close to 20 million viewers and was the most watched program of the entire day (other areas received Dolphins-Patriots.)  

Locally, the Bears-Rams game drew a 26.6 household rating on NBC’s WMAQ, the highest in the country according to the Sun-Times, while the game drew a 12.9 on sister station KNBC in L.A. The Bears 2021 opener was up 11 percent from last year, when they faced the Detroit Lions in a Fox early afternoon window, but down 25 percent from their 2019 home opener against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, the Kickoff game on NBC that year.  Bears-Rams was the top-rated show of the night topping everything – including the MTV Video Music Awards, which aired on numerous ViacomCBS networks. This includes co-owned The CW, who drew 700,000 viewers for its broadcast though some CW stations in the Mountain and Pacific time zones (including Los Angeles’ KTLA) did not air the live broadcast of the event at 5 p.m. Pacific. 

Meanwhile, the Monday Night Football season premiere featuring the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders was a big smash for ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, and ABC, drawing a combined 15.3 million viewers across numerous platforms and was up 42 percent from last year’s ESPN season opener. Of note was the ESPN 2 alternate broadcast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning, drawing an eye-pooping 800,000 viewers. The telecast was praised on social media, especially on Twitter where many preferred the Manning brothers to the regular commentary on the other channels.

As for the Bears, they play next week against the Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton’s old team) in the Soldier Field home opener at noon Sunday on Fox. Unfortunately for NFL fans, they have three more prime-time games this season to embarrass themselves on the national stage, like they always do. Hopefully, the Manning brothers can provide alternative commentary.

Or if they’re not available, get the crew from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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