Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NFL Network expects to build on stout numbers for preseason games

Editor's note: This story has been revised from the print edition.

The NFL is such a strong media property that SportsBusiness Journal is devoting part of this week’s media page to the league’s preseason schedule.

The reason is all in the numbers. Last season NFL Network averaged 1.1 million viewers for 17 preseason games, despite the fact that many of the games ran opposite the Rio Olympics. Even more amazing, that 1.1 million viewer number does not include the home markets of the participating teams, which are always blacked out during NFL Network games.

NFL Network Live Preseason Schedule

Wed. 8/9 7:30 p.m. ET Houston vs. Carolina
Thur. 8/10 8:00 p.m. ET Denver vs. Chicago
Fri. 8/11 7:00 p.m. ET Pittsburgh vs. N.Y. Giants
Fri. 8/11 10:00 p.m. ET* San Francisco vs. Kansas City
Sat. 8/12 9:00 p.m. ET Dallas vs. L.A. Rams
Sun. 8/13 1:30 p.m. ET Detroit vs. Indianapolis
Sun. 8/13 8:00 p.m. ET Seattle vs. L.A. Chargers
Fri. 8/18 10:00 p.m. ET Minnesota vs. Seattle
Sat. 8/19 3:00 p.m. ET Carolina vs. Tennessee
Sat. 8/19 7:00 p.m. ET Indianapolis vs. Dallas
Sat. 8/19 10:00 p.m. ET Denver vs. San Francisco
Sun. 8/20 4:00 p.m. ET Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh
Sun. 8/20 8:00 p.m. ET New Orleans vs. L.A. Chargers
Thur. 8/24 7:00 p.m. ET Miami vs. Philadelphia
Thur. 8/31 7:00 p.m. ET Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Jets
Thur. 8/31 10:00 p.m. ET Seattle vs. Oakland

*Joined in Progress, 9 p.m. ET Start

To put the number into context, the NHL’s 15 regular-season games on the NBC broadcast network this season (i.e., games that actually count, as opposed to preseason) averaged 1.2 million viewers.

NFL Network’s preseason viewership is within shouting distance of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” which averaged 1.6 million viewers in 2016.

Eleven of last season’s 17 preseason games on NFL Network eclipsed the 1 million viewer mark. In 2015, 10 of NFL Network’s 13 preseason games blew past the 1 million viewer mark.

SportsBusiness Journal received an early look at this year’s preseason schedule on NFL Network, which will consist of 16 games. NFL Network will carry seven games in the first week of preseason, six in the second week, one in the third week and two in the fourth week.

The schedule includes three Seattle Seahawks games, the most of any team. Eight teams will appear twice, including the popular Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. With no Olympic competition, it’s a good bet that this year’s preseason will see a healthy viewer increase on NFL Network.