Your NFL on TV: United by numbers, Unitas. … hut, hut, Pizza Hut dude, right here…


It’s in the book, “How to Watch Football on Television,” written 45 years ago by Chris Schenkel, the ABC play-by-play man:

“Unique in 1964 were weekday night telecast of NFL games, and several doubleheaders on Sunday. Viewers are now able to watch a complete game in the East, followed by a complete game in the West — nearly six hours of professional football in one afternoon.

“This has prompted some people to be concerned over the possibility of oversaturation. Johnny Unitas, the great quarterback of the Baltimore Colts, feels that overexposure could kill football.

“Said Unitas, ‘People are going to get tired of seeing so much pro football on television. Part of the lure has been the fact that it hasn’t been easily attainable for the fans.'”

Not unique in 2010: People can’t get enough NFL games on TV. Day, night, prime-time, replays. Pregame. Postgame. 24/7 network-run channel.

Heck, more fans are watching NFL games on television through the season’s first four weeks than ever before, according to information provided by The Nielsen Company and reported, verbatum from a press release, by the league.

The numbers show that more than 150 million* have tuned in to at least part of an NFL game this season – topping 146.1 million at this point last year. The average NFL game telecast (including broadcast and cable) has drawn 18.9 million* viewers – double the average primetime viewership (9.2 million) for CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox in the new TV season.

* — estimates pending final viewership numbers for Week 4 CBS single and Fox regional telecasts due Thursday.

Nine games have already topped the 20-million viewer mark, a record. Most recently, Sunday’s Redskins-Eagles game (23.1 mil). Only two programs, other than the NFL, have drawn 20 million viewers this fall.

Games are averaging 18.9 million viewers, up 9 percent from this time last year. That’s more than double the average prime-time viewership of 9.2 million for the big four broadcast networks in the new TV season. The gap has grown from last year, when the NFL averaged 17.4 million to 9.3 million for prime-time programming.

If Ed Sullivan were around, he’d be doing an NFL pregame show somewhere…

Yeah, yeah, yeah….

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