Column

NFL accounts for 31 of 32 most watched shows!

By John Taylor | Jan 08, 2013

The ratings are in for 2012, and the NFL dominated American viewership. According to the Nielsen Company, games played in the regular season were watched in 80 percent of United States households, and reached 69 percent of potential American viewers.
NFL games also accounted for 31 of the 32 most watched single-episode programs from September to December. And for the first time since the Nielsen television ratings began in 1950, an NFL game was the most watched program all 17 weeks of the regular season, and finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the rankings 15 of the 17 weeks.
While the four major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) averaged 7.6 million daily household viewers during primetime hours, games on CBS and FOX averaged 19.3 million household viewers, a figure that has nearly tripled in the last decade.
“Sunday Nigh Football” on NBC was the highest rated primetime show for the third consecutive season, averaging 21.4 watchers, led by the week 17 Redskins-Cowboys game that earned 30.3 million viewers.
However, the FOX averaged 28.4 million viewers for it’s national afternoon games, and CBS averaged 23.0 million viewers for it’s national game-of-the-week episodes.
ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was also the most watched cable television program for the seventh consecutive year, averaging 12.8 million weekly viewers. With it’s newly expanded 17 week schedule, the NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” averaged 7.3 million viewers, which ranks as the highest rated Thursday cable program in 2012, and the NFL Network’s viewership for it’s other primetime programming jumped 45 percent compared to 2011.
If you are like me, you’re probably asking what was the only non-football program that was in the top 32 highest rated episodes in 2012.
It was the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” that ranked No. 23, and earned 22.4 million viewers.
Despite these figures, I’m sure the NFL still thinks there is room for improvement. For example, the “Wednesday Night Kickoff Game” at the beginning of the season between the Cowboys and Giants ranked No. 16, and earned 23.9 million viewers. Since the first game of the regular season was advertised so heavily, and was between two traditional powers, you’d expect that the game would have been rated higher.
Also surprising was that the game between the Packers and Seahawks that ended the use of the replacement referees was not even in the top 32 highest rated episodes. For as much griping as people did about the game’s outcome, it seems like a lot of fans didn’t have see the Golden Tate touchdown live.
Finally, I’m shocked that the New York Jets only played one game that was ranked in the top 32. Despite all of the national press they received with the Sanchez-Tebow-Ryan drama, only the October 21st game against the Patriots was rated very high, coming in at No. 20 with 23.0 million viewers.
Maybe this means ESPN is wrong, and fans really don’t care what goes on in the Jets locker room.
Despite playing on national broadcasts in 10 of their 16 games (only the Cowboys, Patriots, and Giants had more), the problems that the Jets experienced in the public eye didn’t bring in a ton of viewership.
Our nation is football crazy, and with the increased ratings in the last decade, that doesn’t seem to be changing soon. Despite new rules that some traditionalist don’t care for, the NFL still captures the American attention like no other sport. Though some may argue that college football is a better brand, it doesn’t have the ratings that the NFL is able to generate.
On a side note, if the Cowboys played in the most games that appeared in the highest 32 rated television episodes, does that mean Tony Romo is the biggest star on the small screen? Could you imagine if Michael Irvin was playing today, and he found out how many people watch his games?
I’d tune into more Dallas coverage throughout the week just to hear him rant about how many households watch No. 88 play. He’s been a bit of a train wreck in his personal life, but lord help me, I still listen him every time he speaks.

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