Sports maintains dominant viewership
A resurgent NFL combined with an Olympic year lifted the presence of sports among the top 100 most-viewed telecasts on all of TV in 2018.
For the calendar year, 88 of the top 100 broadcasts were sports, up from 81 in 2017 and even with 2016 (another Olympic year). The NFL was predictably the juggernaut again, as 63 NFL telecasts cracked the top 100. That’s down only one from 2017 and up three from 2016. Within the top 10 telecasts, the NFL had eight spots. The Alabama-Georgia CFP title game was No. 8, while the Pyeongchang Games opening ceremony was No. 9.
With the Olympics on the calendar, NBC had 12 of 18 prime-time windows crack the top 100 in 2018. That’s down from 15 windows in 2016 for the Rio Games, but those Summer Games were often shown live on the East Coast.
College telecasts made up eight of the top 100 in 2018, with six of those being football. The CFP got a double dip, as the semifinals from the last two seasons fell within the calendar year. The NCAA men’s basketball championship returned to cable TV in 2018, but with a three-network simulcast was able to crack the top 100. Neither semifinal game on cable TV made the list, but CBS’s Kansas-Duke regional final did. Also making the top 100 were all four NBA Finals games between the Warriors and Cavaliers. As for MLB, only the series-clinching World Series Game 5 made the list.
Among non-sports telecasts, there were 12 overall: five were live events, while seven were scripted shows. The most-viewed of the non-sports telecasts was “This Is Us” at No. 11 overall, but that broadcast had the benefit of being the post-Super Bowl show.