NEW YORK The Dec. 29 prime-time National Football League game in which the New England Patriots finished with an undefeated season (16-0) by defeating the New York Giants 38-35 drew a cumulative national TV audience of 34.5 million viewers, the largest of this TV season, and the fifth-largest audience of 2007, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
The game was an NFL Network telecast that was simulcast nationally on CBS and NBC, and locally on WWOR, a MyNetwork TV affiliate in New York, WCVB in Boston and on WMUR in Manchester, N.H., both local ABC affiliates.
The broadcast networks were given no cash compensation to televise the game, but each received 18 commercial units to sell nationally, give to their affiliates or to use to promote their own programming.
Commercial pricing for the game on CBS and NBC was not immediately known. Because most of the commercials on the simulcast were spots sold by NFL Network, that network was able to sell a few remaining units for more than double its regular rate. Advertisers who bought full-season ad packages reaped a huge benefit, getting three or four times the audience size they paid for. Some of those advertisers paid $75,000 for a 30-second commercial and got a national audience size that normally can cost as much as $750,000.
The game was the most watched NFL contest of the season, beating out the previous leader, the Patriots-Indianapolis Colts game on CBS on Sunday afternoon Nov. 4, which drew 33.8 million viewers.
The game was the fifth most-watched TV show in 2007, behind the Super Bowl on CBS (93.2 million viewers), the 2006 American Football League Championship game on CBS (46.7 million), the 2006 National Football League Championship game on Fox (43.2 million), the Academy Awards on ABC (40.2 million) and two versions of Fox reality show American Idol, last season's premiere earlier this year (37.4 million) and an Idol episode that same premiere week (34.5 million).
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