SBD/January 6, 2012/Media

NFL Sees Second-Highest Viewership Average Since '89; Local Markets Up

NFL drew an average of 17.9 million viewers per game for '10 season
More than 200 million viewers "saw NFL games this season, with an average of 17.5 million per game," making it the "second-highest viewership average since 1989," according to the AP. The '10 season drew an average of 17.9 million viewers per game. NFL games "accounted for 23 of the 25 most-watched TV shows among all programming," and the 16 "most-viewed shows on cable TV were NFL games." Fox "matched 2010 for its most-watched season, while NFL Network’s Thursday night telecasts were its most watched." NBC’s "SNF" was the "most-watched show in primetime for the second consecutive fall." ESPN’s "MNF" was cable’s "most-watched program for the sixth season in a row." CBS had its "second most-watched season carrying the AFC" (AP, 1/5). Regular-season NFL ratings on Fox "were the network’s highest in 16 years." Games "averaged a 12.0 rating and 24 share, up 2 percent from last year’s 11.8/24, according to Nielsen Media Research." Fox indicated that it was its "best NFL rating since a 12.5/29 in 1995 and it marked the first time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger that the NFC package had an increase in ratings in three straight years." Fox "averaged 20.1 million viewers, tying 2010 as its most-viewed NFL season" (AP, 1/5). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Andy Fixmer noted ESPN "averaged 13.3 million viewers, a 9.6 percent drop that’s the biggest among the networks." NBC "drew the biggest audience with 21.5 million viewers, 1.5 percent fewer than the previous season." CBS "dropped 1.5 percent to average 18.4 million viewers" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/5).

LOCAL MARKETS: The Patriots averaged their highest ratings in 10 years, averaging a 35.2 in the Boston/Manchester market. The rating surpassed last year's record average of 34.85. Over the last five seasons, viewership has posted a season average rating of 30.0 or higher in four of those five years. Prior to that time frame, viewership had never topped 30.0 for the season (Patriots). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Packers telecasts on local TV "averaged 48.1 this season up 9% from last season (44.0 rating) and were the highest in the Milwaukee market since the 1997 season." An estimated 436,555 HHs "on average watched some portion of a Packers game this season" (JSONLINE.com, 1/5).

OUTSIDER INTRIGUE: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted the Cowboys-Giants season-finale broadcast on NBC "earned a 22.2 household rating in the D.C. market, equal to about 524,000 households." The Redskins-Eagles broadcast on Fox earlier in the afternoon "earned just an 18.7 rating, equal to about 441,000 households." Steinberg noted there are an "inordinate number of Dallas and New York fans" in the DC market, and the Redskins "had nothing to play for that week." But it is "obvious that in most markets, the home team broadcast still wins" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/5).
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