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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Can Spotlight On Jets And Giants Drive NFL’s Ratings?

  • Riding Rodgers mania and the Giants’ playoff run, networks will show the two New York teams in 11 prime-time games.
  • The biggest media market could drive the NFL’s regular-season ratings into the stratosphere a year after viewership dipped 3%.
Aaron Rodgers of New York Jets
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — The NFL’s regular-season viewership dipped 3% to 16.7 million average viewers in 2022, mostly due to the shift of “Thursday Night Football” to Amazon Prime Video from linear TV. 

When the New York Jets landed a deal to bring future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers to Broadway, network executives were finding ways to maximize their upcoming broadcast schedules. Not to mention HBO Sports, which pushed hard to feature Rodgers and the Jets on “Hard Knocks.”

Coupled with the spotlight on the Giants after their unexpected playoff run last season, the super-DMA could drive the NFL’s already strong TV ratings into the stratosphere in 2023.

“Think about Opening Weekend. The Giants are playing the Cowboys. And the Jets are on ‘Monday Night Football’ — on 09/11 in New York,” ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said. “It’s going to be absolute pandemonium.”

Notwithstanding the Dallas Cowboys’ 40-0 beatdown of the Giants on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” the two teams are scheduled to appear in a combined 11 primetime broadcasts.

The Jets’ Week 2 and Week 4 matchups against the Cowboys and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs — on CBS and NBC, respectively — could generate the biggest regular-season TV audiences outside of Thanksgiving. (Last year’s Giants-Cowboys Thanksgiving game set the record, averaging 42 million viewers.)

To top it off, the Jets play the Giants on Oct. 29 on CBS, and Amazon Prime Video gets the Jets and the Miami Dolphins in the NFL’s first-ever “Black Friday” game.

Aaron Rodgers Jets

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CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus noted his network will feature Rodgers’ Jets eight times this year.

“It’s nothing but good news. It’s the biggest television market in the country. He is, in many ways, one of if not the most marketable quarterbacks in the history of the NFL,” said McManus on a media call. “They’ve got a great young defense. They’ve got some terrific weapons on offense. And they have a Hall of Fame first balloter with Aaron Rodgers.’

It’s not an overstatement to say Jets vs. Cowboys in Week 2 is the “most anticipated Jets game” in many years, added McManus.

“To have a relevant Jets team on your network eight times as we do is really a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve watched all the editions of ‘Hard Knocks.’ When you look at the chemistry of that team, and you look at what Aaron Rodgers has done, working with the backup quarterback, taking him through the paces, and just being a combination cheerleader/motivator/leader, I think they’re going to be a great story all year long.” 

Hope springs eternal in NFL TV. But there’s no denying Jets now own the longest playoff drought among major North American sports leagues, having missed 12 straight postseasons, while Big Blue has only made the postseason twice in the past 11 years.

Boomer Esiason has a unique viewpoint. Back in 1993, he was the veteran former MVP coming over from the Cincinnati Bengals in yet another attempt to bring the Jets back to the Super Bowl.

Since retiring from the league in 1997, he’s become a two-way media player, serving as a TV analyst on CBS ‘The NFL Today’ and morning radio host for WFAN.

Rodgers has been in a honeymoon phase with the media since coming to the Jets via trade with the Green Bay Packers, according to Esiason. But there will also be plenty rooting for him to fail. Especially Giants fans. 

“For all of us that want him to do well and want them to do well, there are probably a hundred times more who are hoping he falls flat on his face,” said Esiason. “He’ll have to fight that negativity. It’s not going to come from the Jets fan base. It will come from other fan bases.”

The primetime appeal of Rodgers was so potent the NFL waited until his situation, and that of Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, was finalized before locking in its 2023 game schedule, according to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.

The mammoth New York TV market is the nation’s largest by far, with 7.7 million homes, according to Nielsen.

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