The National Football League has returned to ratings dominance after a 2020 season that was disrupted by the pandemic – showing once again that professional football is still the biggest draw to television viewership.
League viewership for the 2021 regular season is up about 10% overall from the previous year, bringing in an average of 17.1 million viewers per game on TV and digital. That’s the highest regular season average since 2015, according to the league.
The league also noted that all of its games gained more viewership than the other top-rated TV broadcasts. During the regular season, NFL games accounted for 48 of the top 50 and 91 of the top 100 most watched broadcasts.
“We’re back to where we would be if we didn’t have the pandemic,” Patrick Crakes, a former Fox Sports executive turned media consultant, told CNN Business.
Crakes also noted that the league had “a tailwind” when watching away from home – a Nielsen metric that tracks viewers who watch programming in bars, hotels or other people’s homes.
This season also had some benefits that last season didn’t. For starters, there wasn’t a national election going on to distract viewers from watching. The league also added another week of games.
In addition, one of the biggest boosts to the NFL’s numbers has been the return of fans to the stadiums, according to Jay Rosenstein, former vice president of programming at CBS Sports.
“Last year was an anomaly as there weren’t really fans in the stands and people were still at the heart of the pandemic,” he said. “Fans really matter, and that has raised the bar for viewers this season.”
Rosenstein added that the NFL’s ability to dominate television remains “out of control.” “It just keeps on rolling,” he said.
It also helped that so many teams are in playoff contention this season — and that many of those teams are wildly popular — including the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.
Many of this season’s winning teams were also led by famous quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, Tom Brady of Tampa Bay, and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City.
“They had a big hand given to them. We have a lot of great quarterbacks, a lot of great stories and highly competitive games,” Crakes said. “It was a great year for the right teams and the right personalities.”
Those ratings are great news for the NFL’s TV partners, who have just signed a 10-year contract starting in 2023 valued at more than $100 billion.
And the bountiful ratings for the league are expected to continue in the coming weeks. The NFL is now heading into the playoffs with notable teams like the Cowboys, Packers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers all up for grabs.
“It’s going to be impossible to avoid the National Football League for the next four or five weeks,” Crakes said.
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil