The NFL’s regular-season ratings were down 3% from last season, which was unexpected with the move of “Friday Night Football” from the Fox and NFL Networks to an exclusive broadcast on Amazon Prime Video.
The 272 regular season games were watched by 16.7 million viewers across television and digital platforms. The league also said 185 million fans watched matches at some point in the 18 weeks.
Despite the decline, it is the third-highest average since 2016. Last season the average was 17.1 million.
NBC, Fox, and CBS saw an increase in viewership over last season. ESPN viewership was down, but it was trending toward stabilization or an uptick for the January 2 game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. The game was suspended midway through the first quarter when the Bills were safe Hamelin’s devastation He suffered a heart attack.
Premier video discussion
According to Nielsen numbers, the 15-game “Friday Night Football” package on Prime Video averaged 9.58 million viewers. Amazon’s first-party viewership measurement showed an average of 11.3 million.
Amazon told advertisers that it estimates an average audience of 12.6 million, based on Nielsen numbers. Amazon signed a three-year agreement with Nielsen to track ratings. This was the first time Nielsen had tracked and guaranteed ratings from a streaming service.
Additional figures from Amazon tracking were from the company’s ability to measure viewership across connected TVs and its apps and who might watch a separate Twitch feed.
By comparison, the Fox, NFL Network and Prime Video “Friday Night Football” trio averaged 16.4 million.
However, the numbers showed growth in other regions. Viewers ages 18-34 averaged 2.11 million views, up 11% from last season. The average viewer age was 47, seven years younger than in other games.
Even with games only available on stream, “Friday Night Football” was the most watched program 13 of 15 times. One of the times it was beaten was by Game 5 of the World Series.
The biggest jump was CBS’ national game window. The ten games at 4:25 PM ET averaged 23.50 million, an increase of 8%. CBS’s overall average was 18.49 million, up 2%.
Fox had a 4% gain in both the gross (19.42 million) and the 10-game national package in the late window (24.13 million). Fox has six postseason games this season, including the Super Bowl.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” increased 3%, averaging 19.9 million. Nine of Sunday night’s games have averaged at least 20 million, their best performance in three years.
Mixed news for ESPN
ESPN’s 15-game Monday Night Football package and two Saturday games in Week 18 saw an average of 13.79 million, down 3%.
ESPN and ABC simulcast two Monday Night games on September 19. Including those games, the average dropped to 13.41 million across 19 games.
Buffalo-Cincinnati averaged 21.1 million a game before Hamlin collapsed. The average has grown to 23.9 million over the last hour. Since the game’s cancellation, ESPN has not included the numbers in its final average.
The season opener between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks Russell WilsonHis first game with the Broncos, and against his former team, saw a crowd of 19.8 million, the best crowd for the MNF since the package went to ESPN in 2006.
The most watched games ended up on Thanksgiving. The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys contest on Fox averaged 42.1 million, and the first game between the Bills and the Detroit Lions on CBS scored 31.9 million.
NBC’s highest viewership also came on Thanksgiving, as the primetime game between the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings drew 25.6 million, ninth best during the regular season.
Fox had five of the 10 most-watched games, while CBS had four and NBC one.
Regular season games are ranked in the top 25 watched and 47 of the top 50 watched.