It may not have turned out well for America’s Team on the field, but NFL Network’s coverage of the Dec. 20 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens tackled the service’s biggest audience of the season.
The contest, the finale at Texas Stadium, posted a 9.22 household cable rating, translating into some 5.76 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was the tops for NFL Network’s eight-game primetime slate in 2008 and was second in the service’s history, behind only the Nov. 29, 2007 Cowboys-Green Bay Packers contest that scored a 14.6 cable rating and 10.1 million watchers.
At a 9.22, Ravens-Cowboys was tied with TBS’s presentation of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in which the Tampa Bay Rays took out the then-defending World Series titlist Boston Red Sox.
The ALCS game and the NFL contest -- in which Baltimore topped the ‘Boys 33-24 -- trailed only three ESPN Monday Night Football matchups as the highest-rated sports programming on cable in 2008. The MNF opener, the Sept. 8 game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, averaged a 9.27 household rating, while the election eve engagement, the Nov. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers-Washington Redskins contest, scored a 10.2 mark. The Sept. 15 matchup, in which Dallas did in the Philadelphia Eagles 41-37, pulled in a 13.27 mark, translating into 18.6 million viewers, the most ever for a live cable program and the second most in cable history behind the premiere of telefilm High School Musical 2.
In the Dallas DMA, NFL Network averaged a 7.6 household ratings (190,000 households), while garnering a 4.5 rating (50,000 households) in Baltimore.
Those totals exclude the 22.7 rating for KDAF, the CW affiliate in Dallas, that played before 566,000 households and the 29.2 mark and 322,000 households on NBC affiliate WBAL in the Charm City.