The rating for the Buffalo Bills season finale against the New York Jets was higher than the rating for the second game of the season between the two teams played in prime time.
The first Bills-Jets game when fans hopes for the season remained high had a 35.6 rating on Thursday Night Football. The second Bills-Jets game on New Year’s Day had a 35.9 rating even though it was pretty meaningless.
The colder weather certainly had something to do with it since more people stayed at home on Jan. 1. But the higher rating for the finale still says it all about the loyalty of Bills fans in a 7-9 season.
Ratings for the Bills televised games this season dropped by about six percent from a year ago, which isn’t that significant considering the decline in NFL ratings the early part of this season.
The average was still higher than all but two years since Western New York began being measured by people meters in 2000.
The 16 Bills games averaged (38.1) in the 2016 season, down from a (40.4) rating in Coach Rex Ryan’s first season.
The only other year that had a higher rating than this season was 2002, when the Bills games averaged a (39.0) rating in an 8-8 season in which Drew Bledsoe arrived as quarterback.
The ratings decline for the Bills here is much lower than the hit NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” had nationally. It averaged an 11.4 household rating nationally, down about 12 percent from a 13.0 average rating in the record-setting 2016 season.
The top-rated Bills game this season was a 42.3 for a home loss to Pittsburgh that just about eliminated the Bills from the playoffs. The lowest-rated game was the 31.7 for the Christmas Eve home loss to Miami that ended the team’s slim playoff hopes. The second lowest-rated game was the 35.6 rating for the Thursday Night Football loss to the Jets in week two.
The Bills remain by far the most popular TV show in town. The most popular entertainment programs – CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS” -- average a rating in the mid-teens to high teens for 30 to 60 minutes, respectively, an episode.
Even the Oscars and Grammys Awards shows don’t attract anywhere near the rating of a Bills game. In 2016, the Oscars had a 17.7 rating and the Grammys a 15.7 rating.