NFL TV viewership increases for second straight year

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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.

23 responses to “NFL TV viewership increases for second straight year

  1. LOL

    Another lie from 345 Park Ave.

    NFL ratings are dropping, year after year. Look closely at how this statement is framed. They’re comparing it to the fledgling network TV ratings.

    If everyone is streaming Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc, now and not watching cable, of course their “viewership” is going to be appear higher on broadcast tv.

    The Thurs night ratings for example are horrible compared to the Sunday ratings.

    But, weekly ratings for ratings up against ratings years ago, they’ve dropped year after year since Framegate II was exposed and Goodell and this cheating owners had egg all over the face, not to mention NE dominating the league.

    All the NFL did is change how they present the data.

  2. Please, please, please NFL, get Monday Night Football, off of ESPN, put it back on ABC where people don’t have to pay a provider to watch it and it will once again become nationally relevant, and replace Tessitore-McFarland with quality announcers good enough that other networks would be interested enough to want them on their network, unlike the present situation.

  3. The TV networks got smart and stopped pointing the camera at players who kneel or sit down during the National Anthem.

  4. californianewton says:
    October 17, 2019 at 10:54 am
    The TV networks got smart and stopped pointing the camera at players who kneel or sit down during the National Anthem.
    And there you go! You nailed it! It’s never a good idea to alienate 99.9% of your viewers…

  5. I like watching football. I don’t like commercials constantly down my throat and terrible officials wanting to be the center of attention deciding ball games. Clean those 2 things up NFL and I’ll probably watch more often.

  6. I think Hulu adding live TV to their streaming service over the same time span has been a big part in this. Satellite and cable got too expensive. TV when through a rapid change. I don’t think cable and satellite subscriptions, as we know them today, will even be an option in a decade.

  7. How many players are actively kneeling today vs 2017?

    Is it any real surprise that ratings have improved?

    I didn’t think so…

  8. The other thing is, in 2017 is when streaming became available for games and the networks rely heavily on that money. That dust has settled there a bit, but that doesn’t mean ratings have “increased”.

    It’s a sneaky way for the NFL to claim that.

    They’re nowhere the ratings from 5-10 years ago. Nowhere near it.

    Google “Sunday Night Ratings Fall To Season Low”…That was on October 7.

    “Snagging a 5.0/21 in the adults 18-49 demographic and 16.4 million viewers in the unadjusted numbers, the Colts’ 19-13 victory in Week 5 of NBC’s flagship NFL show crashed more than 25% in the key demo compared with its muscular season-high effort September 29. In terms of audience, the injury-filled and down-market matchup saw a 22% drop from last week’s game.”

    ^And this should have been a premier game.

  9. I am surprised.

    I enjoyed watching the NFL more several years ago.
    I am annoyed at the increased ticky-tack penalties, boring kickoffs, and somehow the drama of the players has soured me a little.

  10. gtodriver says:
    October 17, 2019 at 11:17 am

    How many players are actively kneeling today vs 2017?

    Is it any real surprise that ratings have improved?

    I didn’t think so…


    Yeah but those people swore they were never going to watch football again…

    Shocked they were lying

  11. More NFL media blitz saying how healthy the league is. Yet, lets look at the underlying issues that are driving fans away. ( in no particular order)

    1. Too much Drama. From the Neil Downers, to Antonia Brown, to Ramsey and his hold out
    trade, OBJ, the list goes on and on. It;s turned into a Diva league.
    2. Broadcasters. Seriously, who want to listen to and old Al Michaels? Outdated, boring,
    and he just can’t relive the Miracle now. Bugger Mc Who? What a complete joke. Chris
    Myers and football. Ouch.
    3. Who really is Dean Blandino? It sounds like a Halloween Candy.
    4. Officiating, or lack of. Can we really say anything else?
    5. Goodell, what a tool.
    6. Contracts. Totally out of line. Goof, Elliot, Gurly, wow a lot of money for not much.
    7. Owners. Seriously, would any fan want to hang with any of these guys.
    Kraft, Blank, Jones, Snyder, Kroneke. Shake their hands and count your fingers.
    8. Concussions…
    9. Patriots. Do they cheat? Are they just that great of an organization? Is Tom Brady on
    HGH or just a superman playing football.

  12. Whatever.
    I know I don’t watch it as often or with as much interest as I used to.

    First it was the NFL and the networks glorifying the kneelers, and the announcers making heros out of them. Non-stop. After every play they would say something about it. Half time was consumed with it. So was pre-game and post-game. So was PFT.

    Now it’s the officiating. There is no defense for it. And it looks to be deliberate. Incompetence doesn’t explain it.

    I’m almost at the point of abandoning NFL football altogether. I did it once 20 years ago because of blatant rigging of the games via officiating. I can do it again, no sweat.

  13. The league must have told the networks to keep politics out of its coverage. If the media would focus on the X’s and O’s viewership would continue to rise. They need to keep their “political agenda” and bias out of it.

  14. I love football but the officiating is starting to ruin it for me. The end of that Dallas game and the Detroit/Green Bay game were so ridiculous that it makes me wonder how long I can keep doing this to myself. It’s killing the enjoyment for me. Just my 2 cents.

  15. Yeah but those people swore they were never going to watch football again…

    Shocked they were lying
    I am one of those people, although I said I will not watch while my team actively participates. They shipped off the losers who were doing that, and I’m back. This whole ratings dip is because of boring kickoffs, atrocious penalties, games lasting 4 hours, but lets be real. The tipping point was the players kneeling during the national anthem.

  16. TV watching has changed drastically at my house. We cut the cable cord a couple three years ago and most of what we watch is streamed. I did miss watching car shows on Velocity but now you can stream everything for $50/year.

    If MNF went back to ABC I bet viewership would go up even more – I know I would watch it.

  17. When Roger told the networks to stop putting cameras on “protesting” players their ratings increased. Imagine that!

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