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NFL Ratings Dropped but League is Still Drawing Eyeballs

A detail of a helmet and yard marker during the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, October 18, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo: AP

It is the weekend so it must mean the National Football League is facing another round of television ratings scrutiny to see how the league is faring. It would be a total shock if the league’s playoffs games on Saturday and Sunday were not the highest rated programs of 2018 when all the numbers come in. NFL playoff games are usually among the top rated TV shows of any given year and while people look at sports as games, television and league executives know it is just a television show. If that is what the NFL is, a television show, it is time to look inside the numbers.

First the bad news.

NFL television shows had a prime time TV ratings decline in 2017. Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night ratings were off. The Sunday night program has dropped 19 percent since 2015. Thursday night games on NBC and CBS were off by 12 percent over two years and that should factor in to the negotiations with those networks as the package is up for renewal. Monday night football is off by 17 percent in 24 months. Those are ugly numbers but if you look at the NFL as just a television show, the NFL is doing quite well with the Sunday night NBC package easily outpacing top rated shows. Television ratings are slipping and have been for years. Networks have been dropping expensive scripted shows in favor of so-called reality shows or game shows. Disney’s ABC has revived old time names such as To Tell The Truth, Pyramid, the Match Game and NBC has new game shows because the genre is cheap and doesn’t need high ratings to get advertisers, so those shows are good for business.

The NFL still gets advertisers and gets good numbers in advertiser’s most desired demographics, 18- to 49-year-olds. The NFL TV numbers are still the best in the business.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.


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