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Volume 27 No. 5
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NFL Viewership Remains Down Across All Nets As End Of Presidential Election Is In Sight

The NFL has reached the midpoint of the ’16 season, and with audience figures down across the board, TV partners are likely looking forward to a landscape without a presidential election and a historical World Series -- and perhaps some better matchups. The primetime numbers for NFL games through Week 8 remain at multiyear lows. NBC, whose “SNF” package has been the best primetime show among all programs on TV for five seasons running, is in danger of losing that mantle. The net’s NFL games to date have averaged 19.4 million viewers, which is down 18% from the same point last year and marks the net’s lowest figure since ’09. Meanwhile, ESPN is having its least-viewed season of “MNF” since it picked up the package before the ’06 season. The net is averaging 10.6 million viewers, down 19% from the same point last year. The NFL also created some havoc with its Thursday night schedule this season. Viewers through Week 8 have had to jump back and forth between CBS and NFL Network, and they will have to make similar jumps when NBC picks up some “TNF” games starting in Week 11. With a smaller package of games (5) compared the same point last year (7), CBS saw a 16% drop for its “TNF” viewership.

BEST CHANCE FOR GAINS: The situation for Fox and CBS’ Sunday game telecasts is not as dire as that facing the primetime windows. Fox is seeing a 4% decline for its game telecasts to date and the lowest figure for the net through Week 8 since ’08. But while average viewership is down, Fox is accounting for 30% of all NFL TV consumption this season to date, up from 27% at the same point last season. CBS is seeing a 7% decline for its Sunday game coverage. CBS’ average of 17.2 million viewers is its lowest mark since ’12. Both Fox and CBS are also seeing drops for their 4:30pm ET national windows on Sunday (four each to date), with Fox down 6% and CBS down 11%. But Fox' national window on Sundays remains the most-watched program on all of TV with an average of 25.2 million viewers. Fox’ singleheader windows are down 3%, while CBS is flat.

NFL GAME VIEWERSHIP THROUGH WEEK 8
NET
'16 (000)
'15 (000)
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
'12 (000)
NBC*
19,390
23,632
21,660
22,097
21,165
Fox
18,903
19,746
20,657
20,900
19,200
CBS^
17,168
18,504
17,551
17,648
16,700
CBS/NFL Network**
14,698
17,562
16,671
n/a
n/a
ESPN
10,619
13,172
13,994
13,075
13,145
NFL Network^^
5,508
n/a
n/a
7,332
6,827


CHART NOTES
: * = Includes NFL Kickoff games. The '12 version of that game aired on a Wednesday in '12 to accommodate the Democratic National Convention. ^ = Sunday telecasts only.** = CBS in '14 and '15 aired "TNF" for Weeks 2-8, with simulcasts on NFL Net (audience rolled together). In '16, CBS had only Weeks 2-3 and 5-7. ^^ = Includes "TNF" games in Weeks 4 and 8 in '16, as well as Week 7 Sunday morning game. NFL Net did not have games to itself until Week 9 in '14 and '15. The net had "TNF" games to itself in '13 and '12.