The NFL began its long march through the television industry when it stopped thinking of itself as a sport — and started thinking of itself as the nation’s premier entertainment brand.
The success of that strategy vs. Hollywood is borne out by the league’s season-to-date TV numbers.
NFL game telecasts averaged 17.2 million viewers through Week 4. That’s up 1% from the same point last year and the highest since the 2016 season.
That weekly average tops those for the biggest annual properties in Hollywood, including the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. Consider:
- NFL (17.2M)
- The Oscars (16.6M)
- The Grammys (9.6M)
- Country Music Awards (6.8M)
- The Emmys (5.92M)
With 14 weeks of the season still to play, the NFL is clicking on all cylinders TV-wise. That’s great news for the league’s media partners CBS Sports, ESPN, NBC Sports, Fox Sports and Amazon Prime Video.
The Green Bay Packers’ overtime victory over the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field averaged a whopping 24.647 million viewers. That was the biggest number for CBS in the Week 4 game window since it returned to the NFL in 1998.
The return of Saquon Barkley to the surprising 3-1 New York Giants is helping to drive numbers in the nation’s largest TV market.
The Giants-Dallas Cowboys “Monday Night Football” matchup in Week 3 drew 19.3 million viewers. It was ESPN’s biggest Week 3 MNF game since the network took over the package in 2006.
Entering Week 5, the NFL can pound its chest that it’s off to its most competitive start ever.
- 50 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter — the most through Week 4 in NFL history.
- 23 games have been decided by three points or fewer, while 31 have been decided by six points or fewer — the most ever through four weeks in both categories.
- During Week 4, 15 of 16 games (or 93.8%) were within one score in the final quarter — the most in a single week in NFL history.
The league offers viewers an intriguing mix of young talents like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson with established superstars like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. That will only continue to produce massive TV numbers.