Big ratings for Patriots-Broncos

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Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Broncos — or Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow if you work in promotions — was so desirable to the networks that air NFL games that CBS and NBC battled over the right to air the game early last week. The reason was simple: Ratings were certain to be enormous.

NBC lost out on its bid to “flex” the game into prime-time, CBS retained it in the 4:15 p.m. window, and today the predictions of enormous Nielsen ratings were confirmed.

CBS received a 19.5 overnight rating for the Patriots’ 41-23 victory, as first reported by the Sports Business Journal. The game was available in more markets than any other CBS has aired this season.

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It is the network’s highest regular-season overnight since the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Colts Nov. 4, 2007. Both teams entered that game undefeated.

I’ll update with Boston numbers when they become available. According to the Denver Post, the game pulled a 40.6 rating and 74 share in the Denver market.

Update: In the Boston DMA, the Patriots earned a 42 overnight rating and a 68 share according to an industry source. Both numbers are expected to rise even higher once Nielsen announces the final household figures later in the week.

It could well end up the second-highest rated game locally in Patriots history. The top five in terms of household rating:

1. Patriots @ Giants, Dec. 29, 2007:
50.10
2. Dolphins @ Patriots, Dec. 7, 2003: 43.80
3. Packers at Patriots, Dec. 19, 2010: 42.62
4. Jets at Patriots, Dec. 6, 2010: 42.20
5. Colts at Patriots, Nov. 21, 2010: 42.04

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