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The game we loved to hate: Pats-Jags draws huge local rating

Hate them or REALLY hate them, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Jacksonville Coach Doug Marrone are big TV draws in Western New York.

The Patriots' 24-20 victory over the Jaguars Sunday afternoon in the AFC title game had a 36.4 rating on WIVB-TV (Channel 4). That is only slightly lower than the 38.1 average for Buffalo Bills regular season games here.

Sunday's rating of a game that wasn't decided until the final minutes was about 20 percent higher than the 30.6 rating for the Patriots' 36-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago in a game that was played in prime time when ratings are usually higher.

It also was the second-highest rating for an AFC title game here since meters arrived in 2000, behind only the 40.2 rating for Denver's 20-18 win over New England on Jan. 24, 2016 in a game that featured Brady and legendary Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

CBS reports that the Pats-Jags game had a 27.3 rating  in metered markets nationally, making it the highest-rated game of the season and the highest-rated television program since last year's Super Bowl.

Philadelphia's 38-7 rout of Minnesota in the NFC title game in prime time Sunday had a 27.1 rating on WUTV (Channel 29), which was about 8 percent lower than the 29.5 rating on the same station for Atlanta 44-21 win over Green Bay in the title game a year ago played in the afternoon.

While NFL ratings in the regular season declined nationally, that wasn't the case in Western New York.

The Bills ratings were flat compared to a year ago.

The regular season Sunday games not involving the Bills carried by Channel 4 were up 21 percent to a 17.1 from a 14.2 a year ago.

The Bills and non-Bills games combined on Channel 4, excluding CBS' Thursday Night Football package, averaged a 27.0 rating, the highest ever for the station.

If the TNF package was included, Channel 4's regular season games averaged a 24.4 rating, its highest since the Thursday package started in 2014.

The ratings for Buffalo games on Fox affiliate WUTV, particularly hurt by the lower rating for New Orleans' 47-10 rout of the Bills, declined by 6 percent.

The only national package that declined here was NBC's portion of the TNF schedule, which declined 4 percent from a year ago to a 9.0.

All regular season games on all networks were up 6 percent here from a year ago.

The non-Bills games on WUTV were up 1 percent to 8.2 rating, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" was up 5 percent to a 13.2 rating, the TNF games on Channel 4 were up 12 percent to a 10.3, the TNF games were up 9 percent on The NFL Network to a 3.6 and "Monday Night Football" on ESPN was up 10 percent to a 9.5.

Before Sunday's playoff games, the ratings for the first two rounds of the playoffs here were down 3 percent from a year ago to a 23.4.

The games (not counting the 51.1 rating for the Bills loss to Jacksonville) were down 7 percent on Channel 4, down 1 percent on Channel 29, up 1 percent on Channel 2 and up 21 percent for the game carried by both WKBW-TV (Channel 7) and ESPN.

To put all the ratings in perspective, it is rare these days for any prime time show to get a live rating in double-digits.

That is why all the broadcast networks reportedly are bidding for the Thursday Night Football package, which many players hate and which generally get lower ratings than other NFL packages on broadcast TV.


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