The NFL On TV …

I ran across a report recently that led with the following sentence:

“The NFL suffered a slight decrease in television viewership for the 2022 regular season.”

I wondered if this was going to be another “Chicken Little” piece pondering the demise of the NFL’s popularity.  Items of that nature have gotten traction over the past 5-10 years even though they bear little if any relationship to reality.  Fortunately this report was simply stating the facts and let its readers know that with this second sentence:

“But that was due mainly to turning “Thursday Night Football” into a streaming-only property.”

In 2021, Thursday Night Football was telecast on NFL Network and/or FOX and/or Amazon Prime Video; in 2022, it was only streamed on Amazon.  The simple fact of the matter is that the Thursday games in 2021 were available in more households than was the case in 2022 and so the average viewership for an NFL regular season game was down 2% to 16.7 million viewers.  That includes some of the “eyesore games” from last year like Bears/Texans and still the average was 16.7 million fans in front of their TV sets.

In a normal TV year – – meaning one without a Presidential inauguration or the funeral of a beloved world icon – – the Oscars ceremony is a top TV draw.  Last year, the Oscars had an audience of 16.6 million viewers – – ever so slightly below the average NFL regular season game.  That is one perspective on the NFL’s dominance of TV ratings and here is another:

  • NFL regular season games accounted for 47 of the Top 50 telecasts from September 2022 – – the start of the NFL regular season – – through the end of 2022.

And what were the “other three” TV shows that cracked that “Top 50 List”?

  1. Ohio St./Georgia in the CFP Semi-Finals (ranked 26th)
  2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (ranked 27th)
  3. Michigan/TCU in the CFP Semi-Finals (ranked 30th)

Football is not in the process of wasting away as a source of entertainment in the US.  Yes, it is a violent sport and yes, the players can suffer significant long-term injuries and disabilities related to their playing that violent sport.  And maybe some day in the distant future, there will be a significant decrease in interest in that violent sport.  But that day is not today and it certainly does not look as if that day is imminent.

And by the way, when the NFL began its playoffs, the audiences grew significantly.  Just in the first round of the playoffs the Giants/Vikes game drew 33 million viewers while the smallest audience for one of those wild card games was the Jags/Chargers game with a mere 22 million viewers.  Last weekend, the Eagles/Niners audience was 47.5 million and the Chiefs/Bengals audience was 53.1 million viewers.

Those numbers – combined with an anticipated audience of about 95 million viewers for the Super Bowl in two weeks – is the reason advertisers pay top dollar to put their messages on NFL telecasts; and in turn, that is why the networks pay ridiculous amounts of money to the NFL to be able to put the games on the air.  Amazon Prime Video is “dragging down” the average viewership for the year; nonetheless, Amazon in paying the NFL $1B annually to present 15 games on Thursday nights or approximately $67M per game.

Another “drag” on average viewership for NFL games is the expansion in the number of international games.  It makes plenty of economic sense for the NFL to try to grow the game overseas, but the fact is that games in Europe televised at 9:00 AM on Sunday on the east coast and 6:00 AM on the west coast do not draw big audiences no matter what network has the game(s).  In any event, the NFL has already announced that it will play 5 games in Europe in 2023 and that 5 AFC teams will be the home team in those games.  [Aside:  AFC teams will host 9 regular season games next year so having those teams as the home team in Europe does not cause any NFC team to have only 7 home games on the schedule.  The only outlier in that scheduling structure would be Jax who has a deal to play a game in Wembley Stadium (London) even when the AFC teams have only 8 home games.)

The five host teams next year will be:

  • Jags, Bills and Titans – – in London
  • Pats, Chiefs – – in site(s) to be announced but presumed to be in Germany.

The five visiting teams and the dates for the various games have not been announced yet and presumably will not be announced until May of this year which is the traditional time for the official release of the full NFL schedule.

Finally, let me close today with a random entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Link:  Diminutive of ‘hyperlink’ or the coded element placed in an electronic communication that allows navigation to another Internet location.  In 90 percent of emails sent by your annoying friends, this link will get you to a viral video about some guy who does incredibly realistic sidewalk paintings or an inspiring story about a polar bear who made friends with a ferret.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



3 thoughts on “The NFL On TV …”

  1. I have a notion that my neighbor turns on Fox News before he has coffee in the morning and has it on all day. I have never approached his front door when it was not on his TV. How is that counted in the ratings? I wonder how many other people are watching 14-16 hours of cable news? One more thing, are my hours (and the hours of many others) watching NFL games via YouTube TV counted in the ratings?

    1. Doug:

      I have no idea how the algorithm counts the eyeballs on a TV screen – – but I assume it is a constant from program to program. Another example would be a sportsbook somewhere. That represents one “connection” to the telecast feed but a lot more eyeballs than in a normal household. Tis a mystery to me…

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