NFL ratings bounce back amid scoring explosion

The NFL’s television ratings are staging a comeback this season, reversing a trend of declining viewership that has challenged league executives in recent years.

NFL games are averaging 15.8 million viewers on television broadcasts through the first 12 weeks of the season. That figure marks a 5 percent increase compared to the same period one year ago.

The league’s broadcasts also compose 19 of the top 20 most-watched shows on television this year, according to the NFL. The statistics did not include viewership figures from streaming broadcasts, such as Amazon’s live streams of “Thursday Night Football.”

The reversal comes after the NFL saw television rating declines of roughly 10 percent for the 2016 season and another 8 percent for the 2017 season. Critics attributed the slump to various factors, including too many commercial breaks, player safety concerns, competition from other forms of entertainment and player protests during the national anthem.

NFL executives took steps to address sagging viewership, introducing pace-of-play rules designed to streamline broadcasts and reducing the number of commercial breaks per game.

High-scoring contests have likely contributed to the ratings spike. NFL teams have scored a record 8,502 points and 980 touchdowns through the first 12 weeks of the season.