The NFL’s poised to release its overall TV viewership and reach numbers for the 2022 regular season on Wednesday.
But before the NFL puts a bow on another positive TV performance, the league’s TV partners are pounding their chests about their viewership this season.
The league’s overall TV numbers probably won’t equal 2021, where games averaged 17.1 million viewers, a 10% increase from the year before.
Because the NFL’s decision to move “Thursday Night Football” exclusively to streaming on Amazon Prime Video from linear TV (except local markets) will likely depress overall numbers.
But the 2022 regular season showed again how the NFL has outdistanced every other property as the most potent TV draw in all entertainment, not just sports. Consider:
- Fox Sports averaged 19,422,000 viewers. That’s up 4% from last season. Fox’s Sunday afternoon “America’s Game of the Week” averaged a whopping 24,130,000 viewers – continuing its reign as the most-watched window on TV for the 14th straight year.
- NBC Sports “Sunday Night Football” averaged a total audience delivery of 19.9 million viewers, up 3%. SNF is on track to become the most-watched show in primetime for a record 12th straight season. NBC had nine-game telecasts with over 20 million viewers vs. five last year.
- CBS Sports averaged 18,487,000 viewers, making it the network’s most-watched regular season in seven years. With Damar Hamlin still recovering in his hospital bed, Sunday’s Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots telecast averaged 22,728 million viewers, up 35% from last year’s comparable game. That made it the most-watched NFL game window on any network for Week 18.
- ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” averaged 13,789,000 viewers across 17 games. That’s down 2% from last year. But the drop is partly due to ESPN not counting what would likely have been the network’s most-watched game – the canceled Bills-Bengals in Week 17 – and a weak second-half schedule. Still, it was ESPN’s second-best regular season viewership since 2010 and fourth-best since 2006. This season alone, ESPN aired four of its Top 13 most-watched games since taking over the MNF packaged in 2006: a period of more than 275 games.
- Amazon’s exclusive “Thursday Night Football” stream averaged 9.6 million viewers. That’s down 28% from last year’s tri-cast across Fox Sports, NFL Network, and Amazon.