Friday, July 27, 2007

AFL Nielsen TV Ratings on ESPN

from Neil Best of Newsday.

It's been five months since ESPN detonated its new Arena Football League deal with hype that included an ESPN Zone bash in Times Square attended by everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to John Elway.

With the Arena Bowl scheduled for Sunday on ABC, how has it worked out so far? The ratings suggest not so great.

The season-opening regional coverage on ABC drew 1.0 percent of all U.S. households, but 16 regular-season games on ESPN2 attracted an NHL-like 0.2 percent of the 94 million homes that have ESPN. (The playoffs have performed somewhat better.)

That is far behind the 0.8 percent of all U.S. homes the AFL averaged on NBC in its last season in '06, which itself was that network's lowest figure to date.

Leah LaPlaca, a VP for programming, said the ratings "are about what we expected them to be for this first season" and added ESPN - which owns 10 percent of the AFL - sees vast growth potential.

ESPN had better hope so.

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