Falcons' TV ratings rise with record

The Falcons scored big on local television this season.

The team’s 16 regular-season games posted an average Nielsen rating of 25.2 in the Atlanta TV market, up 13 percent from last season’s 22.4. This season’s rating represents an average audience of about 586,000 homes in metro Atlanta per game, an increase of about 65,000 homes from last season.

Although ratings data is not available all the way back to the team’s first season in 1966, the Falcons believe this season’s TV audiences are the largest in franchise history.

The season’s most watched games were Nov. 4 against the Cowboys (31.1 rating) and Nov. 29 against the Saints (30.7).

Reflecting the strength of the NFL as TV programming, a Falcons game was the highest-rated program — sports or otherwise — in the Atlanta market for 15 of the 16 weeks this season. The exception was the week of the SEC Championship game; Alabama’s victory over Georgia posted a 32.2 rating here.

The reason for the Falcons’ ratings increase seems clear: the team’s 13-3 record. Historically, there is a strong correlation between record and rating with the Falcons. In 2007, when the team went 4-12, its average local TV rating fell precipitously to 13.3.

This season’s ratings increase “mirrors the trend that the team has gone in the right direction for the last five years,” Falcons senior vice president of sales and marketing Jim Smith said. “We play exciting football, and Atlanta and the state of Georgia loves football. … Winning definitely adds to TV interest.”

DRAWING VIEWERS

How Falcons regular-season games have fared on Atlanta television in recent years (the rating is the percentage of the market’s households with TVs tuned in on average):

Season Record Rating

2012 13-3 25.2

2011 10-6 22.4

2010 13-3 24.2

2009 9-7 20.9

2008 11-5 19.5

2007 4-12 13.3

2006 7-9 20.4

2005 8-8 21.6

2004 11-5 22.2