Sports Log Jam

    • With so many sports on TV at once, ratings are hitting a wall.
    • This article was first published in the FOS Daily Newsletter. Subscribe here.

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Despite the constant drone of the death of cable, live TV — including sports — continues to dominate primetime. In a single week of August, the combined viewership of the NBA playoffs and the Democratic National Convention reached 41.2 million total viewers — about 1 in 5 American adults.

While live games are still a draw, the current glut of sports on TV is posing a ratings log jam. Week 3 of “Thursday Night Football” drew 5.43 million viewers, a drop of nearly 1 million viewers compared to last year. But the NFL is still the most-watched TV property of the year.

Initially, when the NHL returned Aug. 1, viewership was up 39% from pre-pandemic levels. The return of the rest of sports has sent Stanley Cup Final viewership tumbling, with Games 1-3 down at least 60% compared to last season.

Notable 2020 NFL Broadcasts:

  • Week 2 “Monday Night Football” Saints vs Raiders — 15.44 million viewers (largest “MNF” audience since November 2019)
  • Week 1 Sunday afternoon Buccaneers vs Saints — 26.3 million viewers (top program of 2020)
  • Kickoff Game Texans vs Chiefs — 20.6 million viewers (down 7.2% from last year, the most-watched season opener since 2016)