NFL TV ratings
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
3 January 2018
NFL TV ratings slump is a mirage
One look at Nielson’s NFL TV ratings for 2017, and it demonstrates that we should all just take a deep breath when it comes to downfall of the NFL.
First off, let’s not delve into the particulars of the protests, Trump’s Twitter account, Colin Kaepernick or John Shattner. Rather let’s just see what the hard numbers say about this season’s NFL TV ratings. And what they continue to say about media consumption in the US.
In the list of the top 50 broadcasts of 2017, the NFL accounts for 37 of them. Even the Week 13 game between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints sports more viewers than any scripted TV show on broadcast TV. In fact, of the 20 new shows that started in the current broadcast season, “Young Sheldon” a spin-off of the wildly popular “Big Bang Theory,” could only muster 63rd place in its premiere.
Why? Because “Young Sheldon” faces Thursday Night Football.
“And maybe people leave broadcast networks, not because of the NFL, but there is nothing to watch on TV other than the NFL.”
Think about this. Overall, viewership drops 9% last year for all of broadcast. Oh, guess what? NFL’s viewership drops that same amount, 9%. Isn’t that a strange coincidence?
NFL TV ratings simply reflect the broadcast TV landscape
Despite what Mr. Better Ingredients, Better Pizza likes everyone to believe, NFL TV ratings have more to do with more people simply not watching broadcast TV anymore. Not because athletes exercise their free-speech rights or a poor play on the field. (I know I said I wasn’t going to bring up the protests and ex-CEO John Shattner.)
The NFL still owns a bit of a branding problem. But it’s not like the league is trending further down than the rest of broadcast TV. NFL broadcasts account for nearly three-quarters of the top 50 broadcasts for the year. It commands some of the highest ad buys in all of television. Mass amounts of fans are still watching.
We all know viewers are turning to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO’s ala carte offering and a whole host of other small screen and internet options. Given the NFL’s relative strength versus scripted TV in particular, I would argue that scripted TV possesses the real problem.
And maybe people leave broadcast networks, not because of the NFL, but there is nothing to watch on TV other than the NFL.
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