CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski #7 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws down field during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium during a season opener on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 27-17. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
One would have thought that a team full of household names and celebrities (like Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Carson Palmer), fans would be flocking to the television to watch. After all Cincinnati swept the division to win their second division title in five seasons. Combined with the team acquiring Owens, there was plenty of excitement as possible repeat champions and they were playing the New England Patriots -- who is as good a measuring stick as any AFC team. And fans paid attention with local 12 averaging a 27.0 rating for the game.
Conversely, a team full of rookies and no-names (to the average viewer), doesn't seem to generate interest except for those of us that are so obsessed, a clinical diagnosis isn't far behind. Compounded with a team that only won four games last year, it just didn't seem likely that this year's squad would generate more interest than the Bengals 2010 team (before losing 12 friggin' games).
You couldn't have been more wrong.
According to Jim Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Bengals' 27-17 win over Cleveland produced higher ratings than last year's regular season opener.
The CBS telecast on Channel 12 averaged a 31.0 rating and 56% audience share — a bigger audience than the 27.0 rating for the Bengals’ season opening loss at New England last year. Viewing peaked in the final quarter hour at a 35.5 rating and 57% audience share — more than the peak for the Bengals-Patriots opener a year ago (30.3/55%).