For a couple years there, the NFL wasn’t doing so great in terms of viewership. If you listen to Donald Trump then you still aren’t’ watching the NFL, because it’s “sad”. But that might be turning around. The NFL’s Week 1 ratings rose 1 percent while viewership remained steady, according to Nielsen Media Research. NFL game telecasts from Thursday through Monday averaged a 9.4 rating and 16.3 million viewers compared with a 9.3 rating and roughly the same amount of average viewers during the first week of the 2017 season.
Does this mean anything? Yes and no. It certainly doesn’t mean that anyone is going to be celebrating at the NFL or at any of the TV partners including CBS Sports, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, ESPN, and the NFL Network. But it does show some light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, there was an 8% drop in 2016, which had followed a record year in 2015. That said, the NFL viewership is kind of crap shoot isn’t it? I’m not saying that the NFL or any of the TV affiliates don’t know what’s going on. They do. They are extremely tuned in (no pun intended), but overall you’re relying on people being home and wanting to watch the game. Further to that, there are a lot of people who are no longer watching it through traditional cable methods, so how does that viewership get taken into consideration?
It’s my understanding that Nielsen doesn’t include outside agencies like Amazon or Twitter when they broadcast games. So it’s possible that the viewership for football is a lot higher than we even know. Further to that, the NFL takes a lot into consideration when it comes to who plays what games on which nights. If they can crack that code, then perhaps viewership will go up even further?
All of that said, approximately 19 million viewers tuned in to the season opener last week on NBC. This number is down from what it was last year. So perhaps the home opener is up, but overall the ratings are down? Remember how I mentioned Donald Trump earlier, well his statistic was that viewership has dropped by 13%. Where he’s getting that information remains to be seen. And this isn’t the only unexplained fact that we’ve seen from the President.
But then on Sunday, the NFL received some good news. CBS reported that its ratings had jumped nearly 30% from a year ago. Further, this particular game was the most-watched on opening weekend since 1998. So again – does this mean anything? I honestly think that we don’t have a good picture of these numbers. While I’m not saying that it’s NBC’s fault, but maybe people are less likely to tune in to NBC to watch a game? Or maybe Thursday night’s are spent doing something else. It seems like more people have time on Sunday’s to be able to kick back and watch a game. So is it about the network? Is it about how people are watching? Or is it about the day that they’re watching it?
I think each of these factors into the larger scenario. I am looking forward to hearing what the stats are throughout the rest of the season to find out if there is any kind of correlation around what I’m saying.