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Volume 21 No. 26
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Bucking the Trend: NFL Network ratings climb

The narrative of declining TV ratings is not affecting NFL Network, which has seen its ratings skyrocket this season. Overall, NFL Network’s viewership is up 11 percent compared to last season, an increase that is second only to NBA TV (up 18 percent) among sports channels.

“We’re bucking the trend,” said Mary Ann Turcke, the NFL’s president of digital media and NFL Network.

Turcke pointed to two areas of growth, in particular: Sunday pregame and weekday morning shows.

“We’ve resurrected the morning daypart with ‘Good Morning Football,’ and our ‘GameDay’ morning programming has had some of the best weeks ever in the history of that program,” Turcke said. “That’s one way to grow, from an organic small-scale perspective. Stick to your knitting, do what you do, make your programs better, hire better talent, market better.”

NFL Network’s “GameDay Morning” (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) is averaging its biggest audience through Week 9 — 620,000 viewers is a whopping 17 percent increase from last season’s 529,000. That’s a far bigger increase than any other Sunday NFL pregame show.

By comparison, ESPN2’s “Fantasy Show” is down 15 percent, ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” is down 12 percent and CBS’s “NFL Today” is down 7 percent. Fox’s “NFL Sunday” is up 1 percent and Fox’s “NFL Kickoff” is up 5 percent.

NFL Network’s weekday morning show, “Good Morning Football,” is up 8 percent among all viewers during the regular season and up 10 percent in the 18-49 demographic.

“We’ve got some great young superstars on that show,” Turcke said. “They combine pop culture with sports. Some of our avid fans give us a hard time for that.”

— John Ourand