Weather Can Top Even Live TV Events

Players twisting in a rough-and-tumble NFL game -- or an actual wind-laden twister -- can always get someone’s attention.

A St. Louis TV station preempted a recent NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos for some tornado coverage -- and scored higher ratings. The interruption came around half-time and into the third quarter -- around 30 minutes in total, about 15 minutes into actual NFL content.

This wasn’t the final two minutes of a fourth quarter during a close game -- which can bring on its own whirlwind. But still, big weather events can have an immediate effect on peoples' lives. Global warming issues, anyone?

We know that out-of-the-blue big TV rating surprises are increasingly rare.

Tops in this category recently would be the revival of “Roseanne” this past spring. The first two episodes of the show’s return averaged a crazy high 5.2 among 18-49 viewers and 18.4 million viewers, then leveled off.



And then we had a Roseanne Barr tweet with racist overtones. So “Roseanne” was fired, and “The Conners” continued. It has done OK, but not stellar.

The Super Bowl still scores the biggest TV viewership every year -- no surprise there. And it’s not going away as the U.S.’s biggest annual TV party.

Perhaps a decade and a half ago, you could find big ratings for live reality-show finales. They too have faded, even when positioned as “live TV” viewing events to lure big advertiser media schedules.

In recent years, TV networks have tried to expand on this with live, end-of-the-year, holiday musical events. That worked for a time, but subsided.

What remains is big-rated NFL live TV programming -- and some summer/winter Olympics event programming. It doesn’t seem that viewers care much about live scripted or unscripted programming -- save that for other “unscripted” content.

Bad hurricanes in Florida, south Texas, and South Carolina are in this category. Maybe fires, recently west of Los Angeles, or Northern California. Or a tornado bearing down on some St. Louis neighborhood. All can easily take the wind out of a football game.

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