In 2017, when NFL viewership in television declined for the second consecutive year, some saw it as a sign that the sport of football was in permanent decline. That hasn’t held true.
Viewership increased during the 2018 season and has increased again so far in 2019, with the average NFL game now reaching 16.3 million viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Notably, the NFL is strengthening its lead over everything else on American television. Over the last three years, the NFL led the most-watched non-NFL prime time shows by less than 2 million viewers. This year the gap between the NFL and the most watched non-NFL prime time shows is more than 4 million viewers.
The Monday Night Football contract between ESPN and the NFL is up in 2021 while the contracts with NBC, CBS and FOX are up in 2022. The next round of TV deals will likely yield a significant increase in rights fees, as NFL ratings are increasing at a good time for the league.