Patriots

Tom Brady boosts Bucs’ local ratings by 28 percent, while 7-9 Patriots drop 26 percent in market

Rey Del Rio
Tom Brady.

Pick the category — wins, touchdown passes, last laughs, and even television ratings — and Tom Brady came out on top over his former team this season.

Brady, who as you may have heard threw 40 touchdown passes while leading the Buccaneers to 11 wins and at least a berth in the NFC divisional round playoffs, brought a significant surge of interest to Tampa-area football fans this season.

Buccaneers local television ratings were up 28 percent over 2019, when considerably less-accomplished quarterback Jameis Winston threw 33 touchdown passes (and 30 interceptions, 18 more than Brady this season) for a seven-win team.

Meanwhile, Brady’s departure from the Patriots didn’t just affect the team — which endured its first losing season since 2000 — on the field. Local viewership of Patriots broadcasts dropped 26 percent this season, with a final rating of 26.3. The Patriots averaged a 35.5 rating in 2019, and 35.0 in 2018.

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Interest in Brady has remained strong among Boston viewers. Last Saturday’s Tampa Bay-Washington playoff game, which aired in prime-time on Ch. 7, earned a 19.6 rating in this market, making it the highest-rated playoff game in Boston of the six played last weekend.

It’s not an exact comparison, but it’s notable that the Tampa Bay-Washington rating was higher here than that of the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the Bills the previous Sunday (18.3). The Buffalo audience was much more engaged in that game — it got a massive 44.9 in that market.

An assortment of other NFL ratings notes and thoughts …

· Overall, NFL ratings were down 7 percent this season from 2019. Viewership dropped for virtually every genre in television except one: cable news. Per Sports Business Journal, cable news programming that aired during NFL windows saw a 52 percent climb in ratings from 2019.

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· NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched television program in prime time for the 10th straight year, averaging 16.8 million viewers. Again: That’s television program, not just NFL broadcast.

· The Patriots played twice on “SNF” this season, in Week 2 against the Seahawks (29.2 rating/52 share in Boston) and Week 10 against the Ravens (27.9 rating/49 share). Not surprisingly given the aforementioned trends, but all three of the Patriots’ “SNF” games last season — against the Steelers (35.1/58), Ravens (35.5/59), and Texans (34.0/56) — earned higher ratings than the pair of games this season.

· The highest-rated Patriots game this season was the first. Their 21-11 win over the Dolphins on Sept. 13, which aired in the 1 p.m. window on Ch. 4, got a 30.8 rating and 65 share.

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· Consider this the periodic reminder that the record for the highest-rated Patriots broadcast will never be surpassed. If you think for a moment, you’ll remember what it was: The finale in 2007 against the Giants, which aired on Channels 4, 5, and 7 as well as the NFL Network as the Patriots completed their quest for a 16-0 regular season. That game got a 50.1 rating and a 75 share.

Romo will be there

Tony Romo will be in the broadcast booth at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday for the Chiefs-Browns divisional round matchup. The analyst on CBS’s No. 1 team called last Sunday’s Saints-Bears wild-card game remotely from his home in Dallas because of COVID-19 protocols. Romo and play-by-play voice Jim Nantz are usually a seamless pairing, but they had some issues talking over each other last week while they were in different locales … ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentaries don’t seem to generate as much advanced buzz as they used to, but here’s one to anticipate: On Feb. 4, the film “Al Davis vs. The NFL” will premiere on the network (9 p.m.), detailing the legendary Raiders owner’s long-running feud with the league’s power that be. The film is directed by NFL Films’ Ken Rodgers, whose credits include the superb “The Two Bills” doc on Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells … According to various reports this week, Patriots defensive coach Jerod Mayo will interview for the Eagles’ head coaching job. If he gets it, does he count as the first member of the “Quick Slants” coaching tree? Before joining Belichick’s staff as inside linebackers coach in March 2019, Mayo was an excellent contributor to the Tom E. Curran-hosted Patriots program on NBC Sports Boston … The NFL earned deserved praise for its innovative, kids-oriented production of the Nickelodeon broadcast of the Bears-Saints playoff game, with Nate Burleson — as versatile a talent as there is in NFL media right now — standing out in particular. But there’s one way the broadcast could have been better: You’re telling me they couldn’t have found some way to slime Roger Goodell?

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