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Monday, February 04, 2008

Giants' staggering win over Patriots watched by record 97.5 million

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The 97.5 million viewers who saw the New York Giants' last-minute win over the New England Patriots made it the most-watched Super Bowl ever and second biggest event in American television history.

Only the "MASH" series finale in 1983, with 106 million viewers, was seen by more people, Nielsen Media Research said Monday. Sunday's game eclipsed the previous Super Bowl record of 94.08 million, set when Dallas defeated Pittsburgh in 1996.

This year's game had almost all the ingredients Fox could have hoped for: a tight contest with a thrilling finish involving a team that was attempting to make history as the NFL's first unbeaten team since 1972.

But the Giants ended New England's bid for perfection, 17-14. Throughout the game, the teams were never separated by more than a touchdown.

"You might like your equation going in, but you still need some breaks going your way," said Ed Goren, Fox sports president. The closeness of the game probably added a couple million viewers to the telecast's average; the audience peaked at 105.7 million viewers between 9:30 and 10 p.m. EST -- during the fourth quarter.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning won bragging rights over his brother: Last year's win by Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts was seen by 93.2 million people, now the third most popular Super Bowl. Manning was set to appear on David Letterman's "Late Show" on Monday, but travel delays in Arizona pushed his appearance back to Wednesday.

An eye-popping 81 percent of all TV sets on in the Boston area Sunday were tuned in to the game. In New York, the audience share was 67 percent.

There were signs even before game time that Fox could be headed for a record. The opportunity for a team to make history with football's first 19-0 record was a powerful draw. The Giants and Patriots also had a tight contest in late December that drew strong ratings.

The Giants' underdog run had also captivated the nation's largest media market, making up for the only potential weakness in the event as a drawing card: the lack of geographical diversity in the competing teams.

There were past Super Bowls with higher ratings, topped by the 1982 game between San Francisco and Cincinnati (49.1 rating, 73 share). That indicates a larger percentage of homes with televisions were watching the game. But since the American population has increased, along with the number of people with TVs, the actual number of people watching this year was higher.

The Giants-Patriots game's actual rating (43.2 rating, 65 share) was the highest for any Super Bowl since 2000. That means 43 percent of the nation's TV sets were tuned in to the game, and 65 percent of the TV sets that were turned on were watching football.

The 97.5 million figure represents the game's average viewership during any given minute. Nielsen said that a total of 148.3 million watched at least some part of the game.

Goren said ratings were stronger than usual for Fox's pregame show, crediting the decision to add a show biz element with Ryan Seacrest to a program often usually only hardcore football fans could love.

Fox, a division of News Corp., charged $2.7 million for 30 seconds of advertising time on the game, and that may have been a bargain.

This year's Super Bowl was one of the few -- if only -- television events where more people watched the commercials than the program itself, according to digital video recorder makers TiVo Inc.

By measuring live viewership, and the number of people who rewound their DVRs, the most-seen Super Bowl commercial was E-Trade's stock-talking baby, who ended a financial discussion by spitting up, TiVo said.

"I didn't see that punch line coming at all," said Todd Juenger, Tivo's research chief.

Pepsi's Justin Timberlake commercial was second, proving fans either like watching Timberlake, or like watching him sail into a mailbox post crotch-first. The Doritos "Mouse Trap" commercial, from an idea submitted by a viewer, was third.

In what may be a sign of the times, TiVo's top 10 commercials featured only one beer ad and four for either soft drinks or flavored water.

Mike Vick | Vick Keeps Signing Bonus; Judge David Doty Decision - Profootballtalk.com

This is a huge development as the Falcons believed the $20 million should have been returned, but there were many who disagreed and I personally thought the organization's move was vindictive.


Judge David Doty, who presided over the landmark litigation that resulted in free agency and still retains jurisdiction over certain aspects of the administration of the 15-year-old system, has ruled that Falcons quarterback Mike Vick may keep more than $20 million in bonuses paid to him as part of his December 2004 contract extension.

The decision reverses the ruling of Special Master Stephen Burbank, whose decision to allow the Falcons to pursue the money was regarded as a surprise in the wake of a prior decision from Burbank regarding former Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie.

The ruling arises from a conclusion that roster bonuses are money earned in the year in which they are paid. In contrast, a signing bonus is earned over the period of years in which the money is allocated under the salary cap.

The twist in the Vick case was that the team reserved the right to convert the roster bonus payments to guaranteed amounts, which then triggered proration. But the fact that the money was paid out as a roster bonus, according to Judge Doty, exempts it from forfeiture.

In the Lelie case, Burbank found that an option bonus was not subject to forfeiture, even though an option bonus is essentially a signing bonus that comes due at some date after signing. The second time around, Burbank focused on an argument that the league didn't make in the Lelie case in finding that a roster bonus is subject to forfeiture.

The Falcons have the ability to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days. Thereafter, the appellate court would set a briefing schedule, and argument would follow several months later. Ultimately, the losing party may attempt to persuade the United States Supreme Court to take up the issue. However, the Supreme Court takes up only a small percentage of proposed appeals.

Vick currently is serving a prison term for violation of federal conspiracy laws relating to gambling and dog fighting.

Super Bowl XLII, NY Giants, Eli Manning Pass To Burress

This video is of the NY Giants final drive and Giants QB Eli Manning's TD pass to Plaxico Burress. You can hear Patriots fans taunting Manning yelling "Eli!". The drive led to the Giants win, 17 to 14 and ended the New England Patriots dream of a perfect season.

It's live from my trip to Super Bowl XLII (my sixth Super Bowl game) in Phoenix, AZ, Feb 3, 2008.

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