How the NFL Has Bucked Recent Ratings Trends | Chart

·1-min read
How the NFL Has Bucked Recent Ratings Trends | Chart

Are you ready for some football? The broadcast TV channels sure are. The NFL’s 2021 regular season officially kicked off Thursday night at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, when the defending Super Bowl LV champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defeated “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, 31-29 on NBC. As per usual, the telecast absolutely dominated in Nielsen’s TV ratings. NFL games and regular broadcast-TV programming are horses headed in two different directions. And they’ve been galloping away from one another for years now. In 2016, NFL regular-season games averaged 16.6 million viewers ages 2 and over — a figure that was 2.8 times the average for non-sports broadcasts in primetime (5.8 million), according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day data set. The next year, averages for both declined, but the ratio remained the same. That gap began to widen in 2018. (For the purposes of this story, we are including all NFL regular season games in that roll-up — so not just primetime and not just broadcast TV.) NFL regular-season games in 2018 averaged 15.8 million total viewers, an improvement of 800,000 (per game) over the previous year. Meanwhile, non-sports shows in broadcast primetime declined by another 400,000 viewers — the...

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