TV ratings show locals loving Colts, still fixated on Peyton

The most recent round of TV ratings for NFL games shows the Indianapolis Colts bandwagon is still filling up. The Nielsen numbers also show that this market hasn’t forgotten about Peyton Manning.

During the Colts 2012 opener in Chicago, 346,256 central Indiana households tuned in. The 32.3 rating was strong, but not terribly surprising, for several reasons. First was the intrigue about the new-look Colts and the team’s rookie quarterback, No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck. You had to figure every Colts fan in the area was watching because they weren’t likely to travel three hours to the Windy City.

Also fueling the ratings was the opponent. It isn’t like it was before the Colts arrived in Indy in 1984, but plenty of Bears fans are still here, and a game against Chicago has historically driven Colts ratings up here.

During week two, the Colts scored a 32.8 rating, meaning 351,616 central Indiana households watched the home game against Minnesota. While that seems like a small gain, it’s bigger than it looks. The Bears factor was out. Also, 67,000 hard-core Colts fans watched the game live, so you can subtract them from the TV ratings equation. And Sept. 17 was a beautiful fall day.

So while only about 5,360 more local households watched week two than week one, I’d say that’s a significant sign that a sizable and growing number of fans are willing to give this team a chance to win them over.

What about Manning? Obviously, Indianapolis still loves him, or is at least fixated on him.

Almost 310,000 central Indiana households watched Manning’s new team, the Denver Broncos, battle Pittsburgh in prime time Sunday night in week one. Not a huge surprise, given the intrigue of watching No. 18 play his first game in 20 months and his first NFL game ever without a horseshoe on his helmet.

Apparently, the fascination hasn’t waned.

The central Indiana market registered the highest rating of any market nationally for Denver’s Monday Night Football clash against Atlanta. The 19.0 rating (203,680 households) was higher than Denver (18.9) and Atlanta (12.5).

One big caveat is that the Monday Night Football game is also shown on a local station in the market of the two teams playing as well as on ESPN. Still, for the Indianapolis market to beat Atlanta by 6.5 rating points on the ESPN telecast is pretty phenomenal. The way John Gruden goes on about Manning, I can see why some Falcons fans might have tuned out.

Denver and Atlanta aside, the local TV market beat the next best market by one entire rating point. That’s a pretty big margin. The 10th highest rated market, Charlotte scored a 15.1.

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