NFL TV ratings slightly up over last year

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The NFL’s television ratings are no longer declining. In fact, they’re trending slightly upward.

Through four weeks of the season, overall ratings for all NFL games are up 1 percent in total viewers and up 2 percent in household rating compared to last season, according to Anthony Crupi of Advertising Age.

That’s a very slight increase, but it’s certainly not a decrease, which is what the NFL saw in its television ratings in 2016 and 2017. So while the league’s TV ratings are not back to 2015 levels, the talk that they’re in the midst of a steady decline appears to be wrong.

Over the last two years there’s been much hand wringing about the NFL’s declining television ratings, and much debate about the reason for the decline. Were conservatives turning off the NFL because players kneel during the national anthem? Were liberals turning off the NFL because the league wasn’t supportive enough of players’ causes? Were fans turned off by concussions? Did the Ray Rice case permanently tarnish the view of pro football players in America?

This year’s improving ratings may indicate that the real issue is the quality of football: This year has seen star quarterbacks playing at an all-time high level, after last year saw passing numbers decline around the league. It may be that the quarterback most responsible for the league’s declining TV ratings was not Colin Kaepernick, but Peyton Manning: When Manning retired, the NFL lost a marketable star quarterback whose teams usually played in big, exciting games, and without Manning the league felt less fun to watch for many fans. Now that younger quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff are emerging, and older stars like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are still going strong, the action on the field is better, and so are the ratings.

83 responses to “NFL TV ratings slightly up over last year

  1. even though my team is out of it, it’s been a pretty good season thus far. keep it to football..it’s a beautiful game.

  2. We knew this would happen. Social change always involves one step back before taking two steps forward. Look at Nike. Investors bailed when Kaepernick was signed and now their stock and market value have never been higher. Imagine being one of those Right-leaning investors who bailed because Trump told them to only to realize how much money they lost for doing it. #Merica

  3. I’m sorry, but Booger McFarland is absolutely terrible ..I don’t know how anyone can listen to that buffoon and think he belongs on TV, much less MNF.

  4. Anyone think this has anything to do with less anthem/protest/Colin coverage?

    Maybe? Anyone?
    Perhaps?

  5. I always said, the so called patriots was expressing fake outrage over the anthem issue.

  6. People watch Monday night’s verbal diarrhea circus? They literally NEVER stop talking. My wife made me watch Monday, lol. I’m good for the season after that one.

  7. thelastwordyaheard says:
    October 3, 2018 at 11:54 am
    I’m sorry, but Booger McFarland is absolutely terrible ..I don’t know how anyone can listen to that buffoon and think he belongs on TV, much less MNF.

    ——————————

    Booger is the worst football analyst I’ve ever heard on any network. Period. Remember Dennis Miller on MNF? Yep. Even he was better.

  8. Jason Witten has been OK on MNF.. he’s been a slightly less interesting version of Romo. The other two on MNF have been awful.. I had to put my TV on mute at one point cause I just couldnt take the over-the-top relentless Mahomes flattery any longer.. and I like Mahomes. Next week its gonna be the exact same thing with Brees. Every year its the same.. doesnt seem to matter who is in the ESPN booth. They are just so melodramatic and fawn over whichever team is winning the game.. you don’t need to act like every Monday night game is the most interesting/eventful game of all time…

  9. the few who are boycotting are missing out. has been a very entertaining season so far (minus the officiating).

  10. First off, I’m kind of shocked. I’m a diehard and the ref BS almost pushed ME away. Second, no tRump — you have nothing to do with it.

  11. “I always said, the so called patriots was expressing fake outrage over the anthem issue.”
    ________________

    Bingo. It was downright comical how all these guys had supposedly totally given up on the NFL but somehow managed to be among the very first to comment on every article. It was like a guy who claimed to have given up drinking but was always standing in line when the bar first opened.

  12. I’ve watched MNF for about 50 years.
    I have NEVER heard anything as atrocious as that MNF team, especially “booger”

    He is terrible and an outright buffoon.

  13. It has everything to do with the protests. Now that the NFL has taken a position shared by a vast majority of fans, people are coming back. The increase is slight because the NFL lost a lot of fans forever.

  14. 2017 saw almost half the QB starters out for significant parts of the season, at the same time the teams that were good were teams where people on the street couldn’t name one person in the organization and everyone else had rookie QBs that were new as well. In general almost every team in the NFL was radically different from 2016 to 2017 and those that didn’t change sucked, and were unwatchable anyway. Starpower WILL ALWAYS DETERMINE WHO WATCHES

  15. I long for the 70’s 7 80’s with Howard Cossell, Frank Gifford and Dandy Don Meredith….these guys now a days cant hold a candle to those 3 guys….I feel sorry for you younger guys who did not have the opportunity to experience it…..

  16. They should put The Westwood One Radio team of Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner and Jim Gray in the MNF TV booth. Harlan is one of the best.

  17. The same people who called Beth Mowins terrible are the same people calling Booger McFarland terrible. I’m beginning to notice a trend.

  18. for whatever reason, I’ve been back to watching 10 hours of football on sundays, and consistently watching thursday and monday nights. definitely not due to protests, think it has to do more with suddenly a lot more teams seem to have a quality starting quarterback somehow. or at least it feels like it.

  19. All-American Voltron says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:21 pm
    2017 saw almost half the QB starters out for significant parts of the season, at the same time the teams that were good were teams where people on the street couldn’t name one person in the organization and everyone else had rookie QBs that were new as well. In general almost every team in the NFL was radically different from 2016 to 2017 and those that didn’t change sucked, and were unwatchable anyway. Starpower WILL ALWAYS DETERMINE WHO WATCHES
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    ^^^This guy is OBVIOUSLY a Packer Fan.

  20. The same people who called Beth Mowins terrible are the same people calling Booger McFarland terrible. I’m beginning to notice a trend.
    _________________________________________________________________________________

    Probably the same people that rip on Joe Buck and Cris Collinsworth. Keep reaching, tho.

  21. The ratings may be slightly up; however, it will take a long time, if at all, to regain the percentage of fans who left during the Kap debacle!!! Football and Politics do NOT mix…

  22. I haven’t watched MNF in a few years now since dropping cable, but last Monday I was invited to my bro in law’s/sis in law’s house to watch the game (they are Chiefs fans). I have to agree with the third comment. That had to be the worst broadcast team I have ever heard. After reading here that viewership is up 1% it makes me wonder if MNF viewership is up or down over the same period.

  23. All of you people bitching about the announcers should just shut up. On that there thing in your hand, called a remote control, is a button that says MUTE. Press it, see what happens.

  24. There have been entire studies on the Peyton Manning Effect. Its not just that he was a marketable superstar QB. Its that he was the foil to the AFC. He made it a 3 way race, whether with the Colts or Broncos. He was also the cleanest QB(at least while he was playing) without the assault and motorcycle issues of Rothlisberger and cheating allegations with Brady. He was the rebel to the empire(s)

    Without him, the AFC has become dull and predictable. Pittsburgh and NE WILL be the favorites. They WILL make the playoffs. And one of the two WILL be in the Superbowl. It ruins the illusion of Parity. Especially when Cleveland, Buffalo, New York and Jacksonville cant catch any breaks.

    Mahomes adds the excitement of the 3 horse race coming back. Especially with Pittsburgh and New England showing cracks in the foundations for the first time in 15 years.

  25. It was raining in the Midwest all weekend so i know i watched more NFL on Sunday that i have for a long time. It will go back down.

  26. Ratings are up even though the New York market has almost no reason to watch now. Imagine if just one of those two teams were, you know, good!

  27. razzledazzle420 says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Jason Witten has been OK on MNF.. he’s been a slightly less interesting version of Romo.
    ——————–
    we all like different things but I couldn’t disagree more … hopefully Witten will get better, but right now I think the best color commentator by far is Romo.

  28. They were down at the beginning of the season but they went up after Nike released the commerical featuring Colin Kaepernick. LOL

    People who want to blame the decline in viewership on the anthem protests now have to eat crow.

  29. jeffreyshulenburg says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm
    There have been entire studies on the Peyton Manning Effect. Its not just that he was a marketable superstar QB. Its that he was the foil to the AFC. He made it a 3 way race, whether with the Colts or Broncos. He was also the cleanest QB(at least while he was playing) without the assault allegations

    —————

    His college trainer would disagree

  30. The same people who called Beth Mowins terrible are the same people calling Booger McFarland terrible. I’m beginning to notice a trend.
    ——————————
    Terrible is too kind of a word to describe Beth Mowins in the booth.

  31. We knew this would happen. Social change always involves one step back before taking two steps forward. Look at Nike. Investors bailed when Kaepernick was signed and now their stock and market value have never been higher.
    ——————-
    Really?? Nike stock is down over the past 2 weeks…..you sure about that?

  32. Wait, so all those people who claimed they were done with the NFL because of the anthem debate last year and the roughing the passer controversy this year were either full of it or have been replaced? Shocking.

  33. Having Rodgers, Luck and Watson back plus the rookie qb’s and Mahomes. Bad quarterback play and low scoring games are bad for ratings.

  34. MNF broadcast team is awful, notably Booger who cant make an intelligent point no matter how hard he tries – and routinely contradicts his own arguments, often juts minutes later

    ESPN team also blows

    Fox team is superficial

    Romo is the only guy adding true value, while Collinsworth is acceptable

    despite this, some very good stories among Chiefs, Rams, Chicago, and Saints

  35. tinye67 says:
    October 3, 2018 at 1:52 pm
    We knew this would happen. Social change always involves one step back before taking two steps forward. Look at Nike. Investors bailed when Kaepernick was signed and now their stock and market value have never been higher.
    ——————-
    Really?? Nike stock is down over the past 2 weeks…..you sure about that?

    ——————————————————————————————

    And it’s still up 30% for the year. Lets focus on the last 2 weeks where it’s down 3% though. LOL.

  36. People who want to blame the decline in viewership on the anthem protests now have to eat crow.
    ———-
    So a slight uptick above last year’s declining ratings now vindicates your POV?? Lol. Look at the larger, longer trend and get back to me.

  37. “They should put on the Westwood One broadcast of Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, and Jim Gray.

    Harlan is one of the best. Unfortunately, Warner is an evangelical who is always trying to interject his radical religion into the broadcast, and Gray is a well known weasel. Pass.

  38. The decline in ratings has never had anything to do with protests. It is and will continue to be, about people moving away from traditional viewing platforms and focusing more on streaming options. The group of “true patriots” who supposedly stopped watching didn’t stop the NFL from continuing to be the highest rated programming on Television and it’s not affecting them now. It’s all about new technology and a generation of young people who don’t watch content the same way their parents did. Even the parents have cut the cord in many cases in favor of Antenna’s and Android Boxes.

    You self righteous pro Anthem guys who feel you are somehow relevant are quite amusing though. Supposedly not watching or paying attention to the NFL and yet here you are day after day commenting on it. Too funny.

  39. Harlan is one of the best. Unfortunately, Warner is an evangelical who is always trying to interject his radical religion into the broadcast, and Gray is a well known weasel. Pass.
    =====

    Jim Gray is a disgrace to his profession.

  40. I know when I watch a football game involving my favourite team I don’t care about the score, just how many people were watching. As a Viking fan I like to have as many people as possible witnessing the thing causing me such agony.

  41. The ratings will start dropping soon if they keep Booger on MNF! Guaranteed, unwatchable!

  42. Remember last year when D Watson was last years Mahomes or did everyone forget about that. that was a nice touch blaming the ratings drop on liberals that stopped watching. That is special. Part of me thinks he was laughing when he wrote it. I guess if the ratings are up maybe it is because the league changes a bunch of rules and now every game looks like it is a college game with 37-35 scores. But for my money I think the liberals came back after they realized that the league started doing enough so suppose players causes that has to be it.

  43. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    The same people who called Beth Mowins terrible are the same people calling Booger McFarland terrible. I’m beginning to notice a trend.
    ______________________________________________________

    Yeah, ESPN makes terrible hiring choices.

  44. unclebluck says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I long for the 70’s 7 80’s with Howard Cossell, Frank Gifford and Dandy Don Meredith….these guys now a days cant hold a candle to those 3 guys….I feel sorry for you younger guys who did not have the opportunity to experience it…..
    —————
    they were great and complimented each other perfectly … anyone remember the great Ray Scott IMO best of all time

  45. The article states that ratings are up from last year. But where does it stand from 2-3 years ago? A good test is to see what the prices are in the secondary market.

  46. 2ruefan says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm
    I’ve watched MNF for about 50 years.
    I have NEVER heard anything as atrocious as that MNF team, especially “booger”

    He is terrible and an outright buffoon.

    ————————————————-

    I agree. Witten is bad. Especially for an ex-player. He mumbles less than Emmitt Smith (remember when ESPN tried him out?), but excels at failing to make articulate points, often repeating himself in various ways.

    HOWEVER! The guy knows football language. He’s definitely nowhere as bad as the Dennis Miller experiment.

  47. bucdan says:
    October 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    HOWEVER! The guy knows football language. He’s definitely nowhere as bad as the Dennis Miller experiment.
    ——————-

    Tony Kornheiser was the bad part of that booth.

  48. Great QB play and not showing the kneelers/protesters during the anthem seems to be a winning combination. I do agree with many commenters that Booger McFarland is bad. It makes me miss Dennis Miller’s odd stories: “That reminds me of a story from back in 1927 when Whitey McGillicutty ran the windmill slant and excoriated the referees after they called him down”

  49. mogogo1 says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:18 pm
    “I always said, the so called patriots was expressing fake outrage over the anthem issue.”
    ________________

    Bingo. It was downright comical how all these guys had supposedly totally given up on the NFL but somehow managed to be among the very first to comment on every article. It was like a guy who claimed to have given up drinking but was always standing in line when the bar first opened.
    ————

    Ummm…you don’t have to watch games to comment. I haven’t watched a non-Bengals game (they haven’t protested) since 2016…but that won’t stop me from expressing how moronic the protest was.

  50. red says:
    October 3, 2018 at 12:15 pm
    the few who are boycotting are missing out. has been a very entertaining season so far (minus the officiating).
    =========================
    Nailed why people are missing out without even realizing it.

  51. Eddie McAfee says:
    October 3, 2018 at 11:59 am
    I always said, the so called patriots was expressing fake outrage over the anthem issue.
    =====================
    Easy to say after the NFL essentially makes the players stand for the anthem.

    Players stay in the locker room.
    No TV coverage during the anthem just in case.

    But yeah “fake” outrage.

  52. orangehigh says:
    October 3, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    And it’s still up 30% for the year. Lets focus on the last 2 weeks where it’s down 3% though. LOL.
    ================================
    Which isn’t accurate either. Nike was at 82.20 a share before the Kap ad. It’s currently trading at 82.77 a share.

    It’s entirely more accurate to conclude the Kap ad had zero affect on Nike stock.

  53. It’s pretty easy: My love for the game of football outweighs my eternal hatred for the kneelers and all those who support them.

  54. That Thursday Night game last week was near perfect. Two good teams. A competitive game. Some offense. Oh and it also was done in around 3 hours.

  55. fireroger: your stats are dead wrong. The profit for Nike after the Kap ad, it was over 8 billion, not 8 million, but 8 billion.
    All of you all that said you would stop watching the NFL because of the kneelers, please keep your promise.

  56. SwaggyD says:
    October 3, 2018 at 11:53 am
    We knew this would happen. Social change always involves one step back before taking two steps forward. Look at Nike. Investors bailed when Kaepernick was signed and now their stock and market value have never been higher. Imagine being one of those Right-leaning investors who bailed because Trump told them to only to realize how much money they lost for doing it. #Merica

    ———————————————

    No, it’s the fact the NFL decided to apply rules to the Nation Anthem, and not show the Anthem on television, they changed the viewers opinions about the game again.

  57. Yeah because the NFL rightly squashed the kneelers and stopped alienating half of it’s audience. Bravo!

  58. Applying rules to a National Anthem is an anathema to me. My mother was in Germany in the 30s where a certain salute was enforced and if you didn’t respond in the correct way to a political greeting you were immediately under suspicion of not being fully behind the state… couldn’t happen “here” right?

    shlort says: October 3, 2018 at 12:20 pm
    …Now that the NFL has taken a position shared by a vast majority of fans, people are coming back. The increase is slight because the NFL lost a lot of fans forever.

    OK Shlort – show me your workings. I’m interested to see sources and numbers. Coz otherwise it’s just you slapping a keyboard. Possibly wearing mittens.

  59. To me its pretty simple. People just don’t want politics mixed with their football. To me and for my friends Sundays have always been a time for a break from that stuff even if just for a few hours.

    The second thing is you have some pretty good stories in the NFL and some really good QB play going on. Brees breaking all time records, Mahomes playing great, Goff leading the undefeated Rams, and teams are scoring more which always brings more numbers for people watching.

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