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Patriots Game: Sunday Night Football Ratings up Without Keith Olbermann

Posted on December 22 2010 11:00 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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A Lack of Proper Focus from the Beginning

For the first time since the glory days of Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell, Dandy Don Meredith and Frank Gifford, a prime time regularly scheduled NFL football game (not the Super Bowl) appeared as the week’s top-rated television program for the 15th week in a row.

NBC’s ratings for Sunday Night Football have been quite good since its debut, but they took an immediate double digit jump this year, not after something was added to the show, but after someone was dropped.

Namely, Keith Olbermann.  Talk about addition by subtraction.

First, the pregame show:  Instead of Keith trying to interject himself with awkward “humor,” the show now runs smoothly with the best lineup on sports TV– Longtime ESPN anchor Dan Patrick, facilitating a great discussion with two very appealing NFL greats, former Colts Coach Tony Dungy and hard-hitting retired Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.

You might say, that’s the pregame show, that has nothing to do with the ratings of the game, which is what came in #1.

But the pregame show is a very important lead-in to the game, setting the tone for the night and building up interest in the game itself.  And don’t forget, Keith also was forced into the halftime highlights, as well.

Smug and sarcastic don’t really work with an NFL broadcast, particularly when a fair amount of every big game is dedicated to troops watching from overseas, and conspicuous displays of patriotism.

And the proof is in the Christmas pudding.  The ratings don’t lie.  The game matchups are not any better than last year– several teams that were supposed to be good this year have been spectacular flops– and the game location anchors, led by the venerable Al Michaels and Bob Costas, are the same.

What’s especially ironic is that Olbermann generated no chemistry when reunited with his old ESPN partner, Dan Patrick, who was basically brought in to solve the Obly-awkwardness.  But Keith was as out of place on a panel with uber-solid citizen Tony Dungee, and his 70s ‘stache would be on the 2010 set.

And the results are the best addition by subtraction since the Eagles cut over-rated quarterback Donovan McNab.

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