The NFL’s conference championship games averaged 43.2 million viewers on Sunday, down 8% from 47.1 million viewers for last year’s games, which featured blowouts in both windows. Sunday’s viewership total is also down from 49.7 million viewers in ’16. CBS led the way on Sunday afternoon with 44.1 million viewers for the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over the Jaguars. While down from around 48 million viewers for last year’s Patriots-Steelers game in primetime, it still marked the most-watched program since Super Bowl LI. Two years ago, CBS drew 53.3 million viewers for Broncos-Patriots in the early window. Sunday’s Pats-Jaguars game peaked with 53.1 million viewers between 5:30-6:00pm ET. Meanwhile, Fox on Sunday night drew 42.3 million viewers for the Eagles’ 38-7 win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship. That number is down from 46.3 million viewers for Falcons-Packers on Sunday afternoon last year on Fox, when the Falcons led 24-0 at halftime en route to a 44-21 victory. Sunday’s viewership figure is also down from two years ago, when Panthers-Cardinals drew 45.7 million viewers in the primetime window. Eagles-Vikings did mark Fox’ most-watched telecast since Super Bowl LI last February (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).
FEELING PATRIOTIC? YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote for "all the talk about ratings, the NFL business is still doing better than anything else in its realm." Patriots-Jaguars was "bigger than" that for comparable sporting events like the NBA Finals, World Series and CFP title game, as well as scripted shows like "Game of Thrones" and "The Big Bang Theory." Schwab: "Remember, as always, the stories about NFL ratings being down are quite overblown" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/22). In N.Y., Alexandra Steigrad writes NFL ratings "continue to erode" from their previous highs, but the league "still outdraws, by far," events like the Academy Awards. That makes for a "puzzling quandary" for the NFL (N.Y. POST, 1/23).
GETTING OLDER: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi noted the median age of NFL viewers in '16 was 50, which marked a 14% "increase compared with 44" in '06. The NBA's median fan age is 42 and has been the "model of stability, aging just" 5% in the past decade. If media buyers "aren't too concerned about Gen Z's ambivalence for televised sports, they also note that ratings for NFL and other top-tier leagues continue to all but make a mockery of the general-entertainment shows in prime time." For all that, the NFL is "demonstrably losing younger viewers at a faster clip than the rest of the populace." This season, the average delivery of adults 18-34 "across all nationally broadcast NFL games was 2.7 million," down 14% versus 3.1 million in '16 and off 25% compared with 3.5 million in '15 (AD AGE, 1/22 issue).