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Friday, March 1, 2024

NFL Dominated Viewership in 2023—and Also Packed ’em In

  • League sees improvement in overall attendance and as a percentage of stadium capacities.
  • Initial international game assignments are made.
Detroit Free Press

The NFL’s 2023 resurgence wasn’t just on television—it was at the stadium gates as well. 

As the league boosted its average per-game viewership by 7%, the 2023 regular season also saw a slight bump in attendance from last season’s 18.8 million to 18.9 million. Perhaps more meaningfully, no NFL team distributed less than 93% of its available tickets, a marked reversal from 2021, when eight teams were below that threshold, in part due to the pandemic. 

The league’s two biggest attendance stories in 2023 were arguably the Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders. The Lions used fan frenzy surrounding their first division title in 30 years to establish the first ticket waiting list in Ford Field history and post an average attendance capacity percentage of 100.6, seventh-best in the league. The Commanders grew per-game attendance 10% to an average of 63,951, and under new team owner Josh Harris they began to bring some energy back to FedEx Field, for years a haven for visiting fans. 

Given that the NFL receives about $10 billion per year combined from its five primary domestic media partners, attendance is less critical than it is to other leagues, but it still represents a meaningful indicator of the league’s health. The upward movement also joins an attendance trend seen by many other leagues in 2023.

International Assignments

As the NFL’s global ambitions continue to grow, the league has announced its designated home team assignments for four of its 2024 international games. The Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Jacksonville Jaguars will each play games in London next season, while the Carolina Panthers will play in Munich. Each team’s opponent and game date will be unveiled when the 2024 NFL schedule is released in the spring.

The placement of the Bears, Vikings, and Panthers in international games is part of a recently expanded NFL rotation of international appearances, fueled in part by a 2024 schedule in which NFC teams will each have a ninth home game in the 17-game slate. International game inventory is typically pulled from those “extra” home games.

The Jaguars are continuing their separate agreement to play in London each year.

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