The NFL is king. This is a known fact, right?
Don’t tell that to the millions of people in Chicago who chose to watch the Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS, rather than tune in to the Thursday night Chicago Bears game against the Green Bay Packers.
According to Danny Ecker of chicagobusiness.com, the Cubs-Dodgers game pulled in “an average local TV rating of 24.1, or more than 1 million homes tuning in.”
At the same time the NLCS game was being contested, the Bears were in Wisconsin playing against the Packers at Lambeau Field. This game “posted just a 12.8 average TV rating in Chicago between NFL Network and CBS combined, according to a source familiar with the ratings.”
As detailed by Ecker, “roughly 400,000 more Chicago TV households were watching the Cubs last night instead of the Bears…”
That the Cubbies were watched by many is not whatsoever a shocking development. After all, a trip to the World Series would be legendary, since it’s been 71 years since Chicago made it that far. It’s been since 1908 since Chicago won the World Series. So, interest around the nation and locally in Chicago is going to be extraordinarily high right now.
But the Bears pulling in a 12.8 average is exceedingly low and speaks to the overall decline in quality the NFL is featuring on Thursday nights. Road teams have almost no chance of winning, and this was fleshed out last night with the Packers dominating en route to a 26-10 win at home.
Chicago had previously averaged “in the 19 to 21 range” before Thursday night’s game, per Ecker, despite being a low-end NFL team with low expectations and a losing record the previous two seasons.
We’ve pondered what the NFL can do to fix its product going forward, and you can read more on that topic here.
Clearly, the current Thursday night model is broken. The games are practically unwatchable, and players are getting unnecessarily beat up playing on such short rest.
Right now, at least in Chicago, the MLB is king. The Cubs, who now take a 3-2 lead back home, can close out the series Saturday night at Wrigley Field.