NFL TV Audience Seeing Slight Decline, But Network Partners Not Panicking
The NFL for the second straight year is "seeing a slight drop in the number of people who are tuning into its games," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Excluding the first-ever 13-telecast Thursday night package on NFL Network, games are "averaging about 17.4 million viewers per game, down 2% from last year and 3% from 2010." This decline is "far smaller than the precipitous drop the television business has experienced overall." NFL games "account for 24 of the 25 most-watched television shows since Labor Day." NFL audiences also are "a healthy 18% larger than they were in 2008." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, "The consistency and magnitude of the numbers are very impressive." Fox Sports VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill said, "We can't expect ratings growth year after year ad infinitum. We're very comfortable with where we are." NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp added, "I don't see being off 1% as being a major travesty. That said, we are always tweaking." Among the NFL's TV partners, only ESPN "is showing an increase in its audience size compared with this stage of last season" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/14).
THE LOCAL SCENE: In Houston, David Barron noted the Texans-Patriots “MNF” telecast earned a 34.6 combined local rating across ESPN and KHOU-CBS, marking the “largest of the team’s four prime-time audiences this season.” Monday night’s telecast was “slightly higher than the combined 34.4 rating for the Texans’ earlier Monday night win over the Jets” (CHRON.com, 12/11). The Texans-Patriots “MNF” telecast also drew a 39.0 local rating in Boston, marking the third-best audience for a Patriots game this season to date (Patriots).