Back from the grave, there is no doubt that the NFL has not only recovered from a downturn in viewership but is seeing significant growth. Television ratings are again up for the league with strong returns from Week 1.
Two straight years of declines came to an end in 2018 as television ratings bounced back. Players protesting social issues by kneeling during the national anthem had a negative effect on viewership as did poor national matchups, causing the usually solid ratings to sink. Now it appears that not only has the NFL stabilized but is dominant once again.
It may be a small sample size but the first week of the NFL season shows a league that has shaken off the ratings slide and is now in the open field. NFL games averaged 17.1 million viewers in Week 1, up five percent over the season-opening week last year.
Beyond that, the top six broadcasts for last week featured the NFL. Nine of the top 10 programs watched during the past week were the NFL, with the only exception being college football on Saturday night.
The love for football shows no signs of slowing down, nor does the way the NFL is being consumed by fans.
Viewership isn’t being relegated to just regular broadcast coverage. According to the league, 514,000 fans viewed games on a digital platform. This is up 43 percent over Week 1 last year, a good sign as consumers take in their sports digitally at a greater rate.
FOX had the most viewed game of the week as 24.2 million fans tuned in to watch the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants.
The ratings ended on Sunday, meaning the two games featured on Monday night were not included. This should make for a good start for Week 2 for the NFL as the Monday night slate of games was up 19 percent over last year.