Steelers again deliver for TV



The workhorse for the networks that are partnered with the National Football League came through once again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers consistently delivered television's biggest numbers throughout the 2008 season all the way to Super Bowl XLIII, which was the most watched broadcast in American television history.

In Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers staged a thrilling comeback to defeat the Arizona Cardinals and win an NFL-best sixth Lombardi Trophy.

It's a new season for the Steelers and the rest of the NFL, but it turned out to be the same results for the television networks..

The Thursday night game between the Steelers and the Tennessee Titans that opened the 2009 NFL season was the most watched NFL Kickoff since the concept's inception, according to official national ratings data released by Nielsen Media Research.

The Steelers won the game in overtime, 13-10, and the dramatics inherent in such a contest helped the telecast draw an average audience of 20.9 million viewers. The previous high for the NFL Kickoff was the 2006 edition between the Steelers and Dolphins – the first Thursday night NFL Kickoff game on NBC – and that was seen by 19.2 million people.

So, the Steelers broke the record that they already held.

Also released by Nielsen Media Research were two other lists: the Most Watched Sports Programs since Super Bowl XLIII, and the Top Metered Markets for the 2009 NFL Kickoff game.

As for the most watched sports programs since Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers-Titans was first, with 20.9 million viewers, followed by the NCAA Championship Game between North Carolina and Michigan State, and The Kentucky Derby.

Other notable sporting events last Thursday's Steelers' telecast bettered were games 3-4-5 of the NBA Finals, the Daytona 500 and the final round of The Masters. And it's worth noting that while all of those other events crowned champions, the Steelers' telecast was simply the opening game of a regular season schedule.

As for the top metered markets for Steelers-Titans, Pittsburgh was the runaway leader with a 49.6 rating and a 70 share. The share indicates that 70 percent of the televisions in use in the Pittsburgh market last Thursday were tuned to the Steelers game.

Second on the metered list was Nashville with a 40.1 rating and a 56 share, followed by Baltimore (20.5, 33), Las Vegas (20, 32), New Orleans (18.8/27), Cleveland (18.7/30), Memphis (18.2/25), Knoxville (18.0/27), Washington D.C., (17.3/29) and Norfolk (16.9/27).

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