SBD/January 6, 2011/Media

Rising Tide: NFL Broadcast Partners See Audience Gains For '10

NFL Game Audience Up During '10 Season On Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN
Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN each saw year-over-year gains for NFL game coverage this season, with some nets seeing their best years ever. Fox finished with an 11.8 Nielsen rating and 20.1 million viewers during the regular season, marking the net's best viewership figure ever since gaining NFL rights in '94, ahead of the previous record of 19.1 million viewers set last season. The net's rating this season is also the best since a 12.5 average rating during the '95 season. Compared to last season, Fox' figures are up 3.5% and 5.2%, respectively. Fox also averaged a 15.2 rating and 25.9 million viewers for its nine national window telecasts, down 1.9% and 1.1%, respectively, from last season. CBS also saw big gains for its NFL telecasts, averaging an 11.1 rating and 18.7 million viewers, marking the best viewership for an AFC TV package in at least 23 years (CBS records only go back to '87). CBS' average rating also marks the best figure for the AFC package since '95. Compared to last season, CBS was up 6.7% and 8.9%, respectively. The net's nine national windows averaged a 14.3 rating and 21.9 million viewers.

PRIMETIME: NBC finished the season with a 13.0 final Nielsen rating and 21.8 million viewers for its 18 NFL telecasts, marking the net's best audience figures since it began airing "SNF" five seasons ago. This year's numbers are also up 11% and 12%, respectively, from an 11.7 rating and 19.4 million viewers for 17 telecasts last season. From the start of the current TV season (Sept. 20) through the end of the NFL regular season, "SNF" has been the No. 1 primetime show on all of TV among viewers and all key male and adult demos, marking the first such accomplishment for an NFL primetime program since Nielsen began its people-meter measurements in '87. NBC's 18 telecasts were also the No. 1 show in primetime on all of television for the night they aired. Seven of the top 10 most-viewed "SNF" games on NBC occurred this season. NBC also saw year-over-year growth for its "Sunday Night Football Extra" streaming on NBCSports.com. According to data from Omniture, "SNF Extra" delivered 2.5 million unique visits this season, along with 4.1 million video starts and 65.2 million total minutes on the feature. Those figures are up 26%, 16% and 18%, respectively, from the '09 season.

CABLE: ESPN averaged a 9.1 U.S. rating and 14.7 million viewers for its 17 "MNF" telecasts this season, marking the net's highest-rated and most-viewed "MNF" season since it began airing the series in '06. "MNF" was also the most-viewed series on cable TV in '10. For the five seasons that ESPN has aired "MNF," the net has registered nine of the top 10 largest cable TV audiences ever among viewers, including five from this past season. Compared to last season's record-setting TV numbers, "MNF" was up 1.1% in ratings and 1.9% in viewers. "MNF" also ranked No. 2 during the NFL season among all regularly-scheduled primetime programs among adults 18-49. Meanwhile, NFL Network's eight game telecasts this season averaged a network-record 5.7 million viewers, up 2.8% from last year's viewership.

FINAL '10 NFL GAME VIEWERSHIP
NETWORK
'10
(000)
'09
(000)
1-YEAR
%/-
'08
(000)
2-YEAR
% +/-
NBC
21,848
19,418
12.5%
16,638
31.3%
Fox
20,100
19,097
5.3%
16,992
18.3%
CBS
18,747
17,211
8.9%
16,211
15.6%
ESPN
14,657
14,382
1.9%
11,962
22.5%
NFL Network
5,705
5,548
2.8%
3,738
52.6%
         
 

SHOULDER PROGRAMMING: NBC averaged 8.3 million viewers for its "Football Night in America" highlight show from 7:30-8:15pm ET, marking the best audience yet for the show. "Fox NFL Sunday" averaged 5.4 million viewers this season, marking the pregame show's best viewership in nine years and giving the net a win over CBS' "The NFL Today" for the 13th straight seasons. "The OT" on Fox also averaged 12.3 million viewers, down from last season's record-setting figure. "The NFL Today" on CBS finished with 4.5 million viewers, marking the show's best audience since the '98 season. ESPN showed gains for both of their NFL pregame shows, with "Sunday NFL Countdown" viewership up 6.0% and "Monday Night Countdown" viewership up 17.5%.

NFL PREGAME/HIGHLIGHT SHOW VIEWERSHIP
NET
SHOW
VIEWERS
(000)
PREV.
% +/-
Fox
"The OT"
12,300
12,700
-3.1%
NBC
"Football Night In America"
8,300
7,400
12.2%
Fox
"Fox NFL Sunday"
5,400
4,900
10.2%
CBS
"The NFL Today"
4,501
3,749
20.1%
ESPN
"Sunday NFL Countdown"
2,652
2,502
6.0%
ESPN
"Monday Night Countdown"
3,532
3,006
17.5%
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NFL, Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN, Nielsen, Football, TES

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