BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals have completed their first sellout of an entire home schedule since 1992 when they announced Thursday that Sunday's home finale against the New York Giants is sold out. The crowd also guarantees a franchise attendance record in the 525,000 range, breaking last season's mark of 479,488.
A limited number of tickets remain. But they are in categories such as obstructed view seats, which do not affect the determination of a sellout for local television. Remaining seats can be purchased by calling the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383, or by clicking "Tickets" on the Bengals.com home page.
The 1 p.m. game is now set for live local television coverage on area Fox Network affiliates, including WXIX-TV (Channel 19) in Cincinnati. The two highest-rated programs in Cincinnati for the entire fall period are the Bengals' prime-time victories Sept. 19 against Miami and Oct. 25 against Denver. They each drew ratings of 34.3, indicating the percentage of households tuned to a program.
"I want to thank our fans for the great support they've given us all year," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "It's essential to have a strong home field advantage in the NFL, and our fans have provided that."
With this season's eight sellouts, the club has sold out 11 straight home games. The first seven home games this year have drawn the seven largest crowds in team history, topped by a record 65,806 on Monday night against Denver.
Nine of the Bengals' first 14 games have rated as Cincinnati's most-watched program for their respective weeks. CSI, CBS' prime time time crime drama, won the weekly crown the other five weeks, with the Bengals finishing second.
Although most Bengals games are played in the afternoon, when overall TV viewership is lower than in prime time, seven of the top 10 TV programs in the Cincinnati market for the fall of 2004 have been Bengals games. The other three top-10 programs were broadcasts of CSI.