NFL pre-season ratings: 'Opening Night' draws big local numbers

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The first official night of the NFL pre-season proved what we all know: people enjoy football.

The people of America enjoy football. That's an understatement we make every single year, because every year we discover more and more evidence of how nuts people are when it comes to this silly game. Let's just show you another example of how much more everybody likes watching football than everything else.

You know how the stereotype is that St. Louis is a baseball town and nobody really cares about the Rams? Well, how's about this: the Rams pre-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday drew a 9.4/16 rating in the St. Louis market. While that was the lowest rating for any local market involved in an NFL game last night, it still beat out the 7.8 rating FS Midwest drew for that night's Dodgers-Cardinals game. The Cards may be in a slide right now, but they're still supposed to be No. 1 in the Gateway City, no?

NFL pre-season games won the ratings day in every one of the 11 local markets in which it aired Thursday night. We say 11 because the 12th market to participate in a game last night, Tampa Bay, had their game blacked out due to insufficient attendance and the NFL's dumb rules about things like that. Football drew big ratings in big markets (Washington, the Bay Area, Atlanta) and massive ratings in slightly smaller markets (Nashville, Denver, Seattle, Cleveland). There was nothing baseball, or reruns of The Big Bang Theory could do about it.

Here's a helpful chart to show you the extent of the NFL's domination. It is complete with ratings, and what finished second-place in the market on Thursday night. Please note that the ESPN game, Cincinnati vs. Atlanta, aired on two stations in each market due to another of the NFL's weird rules.

Local Ratings for NFL Pre-Season Thursday Night

Market Game Affiliate Rating Second Place
Nashville WSH vs. TEN WKRN (ABC) 23.9/36 The Big Bang Theory: 7.7
Denver DEN vs. SF KTVD (MyNetwork TV) 21.0/40 The Big Bang Theory: 3.9
Seattle SEA vs. SD KPCQ (Fox) 21.0/40 The Big Bang Theory: 3.1
Cleveland STL vs. CLE WKYC (NBC) 21.0/34 The Big Bang Theory: 4.6
Baltimore BAL vs. TB WBAL (NBC) 21.0/33 The Big Bang Theory: 6.0
Cincinnati CIN vs. ATL WLWT (NBC) /ESPN 18.2/28 The Big Bang Theory: 10.0
San Diego SEA vs. SD KFMB (CBS) 14.3/26 America's Got Talent: 3.2
Atlanta CIN vs. ATL WSB (ABC)/ESPN 13.8/23 The Big Bang Theory: 3.1
Bay Area DEN vs. SF KPIX (CBS) 12.9/29 Wipeout: 1.9
Washington WSH vs. TEN WRC (NBC)/CSN DC 12.9/21 The Big Bang Theory: 4.2
St. Louis STL vs. CLE KTVI 9.4/16 Dodgers/Cardinals: 7.8

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