NFL games accounted for 75 of the 100 most watched shows of 2021 – Sportico.com
In a year marked by a pair of ratings-grabbing quadrennial events and plenty of intrigue on Beltway, the NFL in 2021 effectively swallowed television in full, accounting for 41 of the 50 Most-Watched Programs and 75 of the 100 best. In In so doing, the league not only silenced the torrent of uninformed boos and chuckles that greeted last season’s COVID-related audience drops, but it also justified the huge tariff hikes it has negotiated with its historical partners.
The NFL’s Kung Fu Grip on the American psyche is more overwhelming than ever, with overall deliveries to regional and national TV windows up 9% from the period last year. Keep in mind that these increases are accentuating as overall TV usage continues to wane; According to Nielsen, the number of people connected to linear TV during this season is down 10% from the analogous period of 2020.
This slowdown coincides with the continued erosion of traditional pay-TV customers. As the number of households subscribed to the cable / satellite package had fallen 9% to 69.7 million by the end of the third quarter – just seven years ago the number was north of 100 million households – l 11% increase offered by ESPN with its Monday night football package is all the more impressive.
While NFL ratings were strong from the start, with NBC getting a boost from the Tom Brady Homecoming Game (26.9 million viewers), it wasn’t until the Thanksgiving Day numbers fell as the jaws of the advertisers really started to hit the ground. After a late adjustment, CBS’s coverage of the Raiders-Cowboys overtime battle ended up garnering 40.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched Tryptophan Bowl of the modern Nielsen era. The holiday show claimed fourth place of the year (see table), behind Super Bowl LV and the two divisional championship games.
While the dominance of the NFL ratings effectively crowded out almost everything else on the hit (in a rare shutout, the World Series and NBA Finals failed to chart, while the racing portion of NBC’s Kentucky Derby Coverage correct missed the cut at # 105), the shadow it cast over the network’s sitcoms, dramas, and reality / competition series was as long and dark as it has ever been. With an average draw of 18.2 million linear viewers per game, a draw that includes 6.67 million members of the 18-49 demo, Sunday night football actually sucked all the air out of prime time. By comparison, the 66 prime-time entertainment shows since the start of the NFL season currently have an average of 4.23 million viewers on average, of which 732,371 are in the largest groups under 50. .
In total, live sports accounted for 94 of the 100 biggest TV audiences of the year, with the NFL being joined by 10 Summer Olympics broadcasts, seven top-tier games and a pair of basketball championship outings. NCAA men’s ball. That left very little room for a scripted series to make its mark; indeed, once political events, Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and Oprah’s encounter with the crown con artists did their part, the only network show to land on the list was CBS ‘premiere. Equalizer, which led out of the Super Bowl. The last time a scripted show made it into the Top 100 without the benefit of a Super Sunday air date was in 2019, when the hour-long series finale of The Big Bang Theory scares 18.5 million viewers on Eye Network.
As you might expect, the NFL’s broadcast partners have appeared in this year’s rankings more often than those not affiliated with the league. NBC and Fox each accounted for 31 of the most-watched shows of the year, while CBS had 26 of the top slots. ESPN claimed 10 entries, two of which were bolstered by broadcast sibling ABC, while the remaining two programs were spread across multiple networks.
Among the NFL teams that made the top 100 most frequent were Green Bay, Dallas, Tampa and Kansas City. The NFC continued to enjoy a disproportionate representation in the rankings, with intra-conference games accounting for 36 of the most-watched broadcasts of the year, while AFC meetings claimed 20 slots. AFC vs. NFC showcases occupied 19 of the top 100 locations; naturally, the biggest draw among these was Super Bowl LV.
Of the 75 NFL shows listed, 29 were broadcast in prime time. The majority of them were Sunday night football games, although five Thursday night football shows and four Monday night football the productions were on the list.
As has been the case for over a decade, the NFL’s national Sunday afternoon TV window has remained the most valuable piece of real estate for advertisers. According to Nielsen, CBS and Fox currently average 23.8 million viewers in the 4:20 p.m. ET window, a tally that includes their two Thanksgiving shows.