By Alan Pergament
It was only a preseason game -- the first of five this year -- but the Buffalo Bills' 17-13 loss to the New York Giants on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" almost had a regular season rating.
The game had a 26.5 rating on Channel 2, which is in the range of some of the low-rated regular season games in years past. The Bills regular season games typically get local ratings in the range of the high 20s and low 30s until they fall out of the playoff race.
To compare interest in the Hall of Fame game further, the 2013 preseason opener against Indianapolis a year ago had a 15.7 rating. This Sunday's game peaked with a 30.4 local rating in the first quarter and finished with a 22.5 rating.
There are multiple reasons for the high rating. The attention given to Andre Reed's Hall of Fame induction Saturday night, the halftime piece on Jim Kelly, the anxiety over the the sale of the team, the Giants as an opponent, and the high hopes that this edition of the Bills team has of breaking a 14-year playoff drought.
NBC won the night nationally in prime time with a 5.8 overnight rating in the top 56 TV markets, but the website Media Insights reports the rating was 13 percent lower than the rating for the 2013 Hall of Fame game between Dallas and Miami.
Channel 2's one-hour pregame show also did very well. It had a 12.2 rating, which would make it the highest-rated prime time show of the week other than the game.