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NFL Ratings Highest They Have Been Since 2015

“It all came to a head in Massachusetts on Sunday night as the league capped off their stellar month.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: NFL

The NFL is returning to normal in all the right ways on television. The league reported this week that its games are averaging 17.3 million viewers on streaming and TV. That mark represents its highest average viewership through four weeks since the 2015 season.

The minutiae in the numbers make the bounce back from the pandemic-shifted 2020 season even more impressive. NFL viewership is up 17% compared to last year. The amount of People using TVs has decreased by 8%, while the NFL’s share of TVs watching its games is up 26% compared to 2020.

Of the 21 most-watched telecasts in the country this year, every single one has been an NFL game. Award shows and a sprinkling of other events used to scatter on the list alongside the NFL matchups, but not anymore.

It all came to a head in Massachusetts on Sunday night as the league capped off their stellar month. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers 19-17 victory over Bill Belichick and the Patriots was the biggest hit of the season so far.

The game’s final viewing numbers checked in at 28 million people with streaming and TV combined. That represented the largest TV audience since Super Bowl LV this past February. The game outrated five of the six wild-card games and two divisional round games from this past postseason.

Tom Brady is no stranger to this many eyeballs watching him. The total paled when compared to the record viewership of an NFL game, which a Giants-49ers Monday Night Football game set with 41.3 million viewers on Dec. 3, 1990. Yet, Brady teams hold the top three spots in terms of viewership for Sunday-only games.

Brady sells, and NBC was buying the storylines all night long before kick-off. The anticipation for Brady v. Belichick helped Football Night In America post the second-highest rating in its history (12 million viewers).

The death of football was always an overreaction, and the numbers coming out of this NFL bear that out.

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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NFL

The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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