Preseason Football Thrown For A Loss
Preseason football has never attracted the sizable audiences that the regular season routinely does, but when the debut of Fox's preseason football telecast debuts with surprisingly 21 percent fewer viewers than a year ago and is beaten in total viewers by a repeat of NBC's Dateline magazine series, it's got to send shivers up the spines of broadcast sports executives. But that's what happened on Friday night as Fox's football telecast averaged just 4.69 million viewers for the night versus 5.82 million for Dateline in the 9:00 p.m. hour. On Sunday night, preseason football improved to 5.81 million viewers but was nevertheless beaten in every half hour in total viewers by CBS programs, which averaged 6.3 million viewers. Just as surprisingly, NBC's soccer telecast on Saturday afternoon featuring English teams Swansea City and Manchester United set a record for a soccer telecast -- averaging about 3.5 million -- up a whopping 63 percent over last year.