Almost half of Atlanta watched Falcons' finish on TV

011313 ATLANTA : The crowd goes wild and Falcons players pile on kicker Matt Bryant after his game winning field goal for a 30-28 victory over the Seahawks in their NFL divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
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011313 ATLANTA : The crowd goes wild and Falcons players pile on kicker Matt Bryant after his game winning field goal for a 30-28 victory over the Seahawks in their NFL divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Almost half of the households in metro Atlanta – and slightly more than 70 percent of those with a television turned on at the time – watched the dramatic ending of the Falcons’ playoff game Sunday.

Overall, Fox’s coverage of the Falcons’ 30-28 victory over Seattle posted a 39.7 Nielsen rating and a 64 share in the Atlanta television market, meaning the game was watched by an average of 39.7 percent of the market’s homes with TVs and 64 percent of the homes with TVs in use.

But the local audience grew even larger for the finish, peaking at a 48.1 rating and a 71 share during the telecast’s final 15 minutes, which saw the Falcons win on a Matt Bryant field goal with eight seconds to play after squandering a 20-point lead.

The overall 39.7 rating translated to an average audience of about 924,000 local households throughout the telecast, making the game the most watched sports event on Atlanta television since last season’s Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots drew a 51.3 rating.

For comparison, here are the Nielsen ratings posted by some other major sports events on Atlanta TV in the past year:

  • SEC Championship football game: 32.2
  • BCS national championship game: 26.9
  • London Olympics opening ceremonies: 24.1
  • The Masters final round: 11.2
  • Braves-Cardinals wild-card playoff game: 9.1

The Falcons averaged a 25.2 rating on Atlanta TV for their 16 regular-season games, up 13 percent from last season. A Falcons game was the highest rated program — sports or otherwise — in the Atlanta market for 15 of the 16 weeks during the regular season. The exception was the week of the SEC Championship game.

Even so, about 200,000 more Atlanta households watched Sunday’s playoff telecast on average than watched the Falcons’ highest-rated regular season game Nov. 4 against Dallas.

The highest rated Falcons game on Atlanta TV in franchise history remains the 1999 Super Bowl, which drew a 58.2 rating and 79 share here.

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