There's no denying that the NFL is a ratings titanic for good reason. The networks have done a great job in compiling personalities and relevant retired stars to talk football, analyze football, and make us truly believe that every week is the Super Bowl.
In cities such as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Nashville the NFL has built successful franchises in places where baseball either struggles or doesn't exist. There's no denying that the NFL captivates it's audiences to a degree that no other sport does; I mean, they captivate us to the point where we actually listen to what Rodney Harrison, Cris Carter, Terry Bradshaw, and Tim Hasslebeck have to say. That's like Milton Bradley, Gary Sheffield, Yogi Berra, and Adam Everett breaking down a baseball game for you.
There's no denying that in the 00's the NFL has succeeded both Basketball and Baseball as the most popular sport in America; and whether it's the national pastime or not, the ratings back it up.
But there's one thing in American sports that will probably never change; The New York Yankees are now, always have been, and likely always will be bigger, more popular, and more captivating than any other sports league, let alone team, in the USA. It's the reason that in 2000 and 2004 Yankees games competed with the Olympics in TV ratings.
Now, after a down decade of competing with the NFL, the Yankees have finally pulled off another impressive feat that no other team in any other sport could do. They dominated Sunday Night football in the ratings.
A Stanley Cup playoffs game 7 wouldn't get the same rating as a Monday Night Football game, let alone compete with NBC for the Sunday Night Football rating. A Lakers NBA Finals game generally generates anywhere between a 4 and a 5 Nielsen rating. By comparison, the low a Sunday Night Football game normally gets in a season is somewhere between an 8 and a 9.
Last night the Yankees were up against stiff competition in their hometown New York Giants who were hosting defending the NFC Champion Cardinals in New York. But somehow the Yankees pulled off a miraculous 11.4 rating for Fox, while the Giants and Cardinals did a 10.4.
Considering both games were good games, I'd have to say that the Yankees beat out simply because of public interest.
This isn't enough to say that Baseball is on par with Football, that'd be ridiculous. What it does say is that the interest for baseball is still there nationally. It's a long baseball season and not every game matters, but when the games do matter audiences will tune in. Especially when it involves the Yankees (by comparison in 2007 a Red Sox vs Indians game 6 only drew a modest 7. 5 national rating.).
Luckily, the NFL has nothing to worry about. The Yankees vs Phillies game 4 on Sunday Night will not compete with any NFL programming. Although I'm not sure if even the World Series could compete with Favre Bowl II.