League logos

NFL Maintains a Monopoly on Sundays

Television Audiences Total 733 Million Through Week 8

Anlayses of

No items found.
November 16, 2022
November 16, 2022
 min read

Throughout much of the year, Sundays provide countless productive or leisurely opportunities. The weekend capper may be spent enjoying quality time with family or friends, working on household projects, or experiencing an array of other activities. But when summer turns to fall, sports fans overwhelmingly reserve the day for football. Beginning with kickoff at 1 p.m. on the east coast and continuing through the Sunday night showcase ending sometime after the late local news would have typically already begun, NFL fans across the country are glued to the action. The Sunday contests are then complemented by marquee matchups on Thursdays and Mondays to satiate an ever-growing appetite for America’s most popular sport. We used MVP’s broadcast platform to quantify NFL audiences during the first half of the 2022 season while also determining which networks and teams have been the biggest draws this year. Our analysis of every game played through Week 8 revealed 733 million total viewers, with a franchise that has long staked claim to the title of “America’s Team” earning the largest share.

Cowboys Sit Atop Viewership Rankings

For most teams – in any major professional league, but especially the NFL – placement in viewership rankings is dependent upon how successful they are on the field of play and how often they are featured in prime broadcast windows. But historically, neither is the ultimate factor for the Dallas Cowboys. The celebrated franchise’s fan base extends far beyond its Texas roots and stokes interest in every pocket of the country. As a result, the Cowboys regularly receive national billing from NFL broadcast partners. Through eight weeks this season, Dallas played three of its games in prime time and another two received national game-of-the-week coverage in the 4 p.m. window on the east coast. Consequently, the Cowboys averaged 15.6 million viewers across their eight games to open the 2022 campaign. Their audiences exceeded that overall average during away games, which earned 18.98 million household viewers per contest. But Dallas is not the only franchise that regularly delivered large viewership totals. The Kansas City Chiefs have also enjoyed a significant following this season, drawing TV audiences of 14.07 million households per game. The Green Bay Packers were close behind through eight weeks with 13.38 million viewers per game, followed by the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with averages of 12.94 million and 10.08 million, respectively. Notably, teams in the AFC South have collectively been the least appealing so far this year, with all four teams ranking in the bottom seven of our overall standings. Jacksonville’s 1.47 million viewers per game were the fewest among all NFL teams through the midway point of the schedule.

Want to stay updated with the latest in sponsorship measurement trends?

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

NBC Sets Standard for Broadcast Partners

If the NFL owns autumn Sundays, NBC is the king of Sunday nights for the final four months of the year. Each week, the network’s Sunday Night Football telecast shines a spotlight on a marquee matchup available to the entire nation in prime time. A monopoly on game coverage in the broadcast window has yielded remarkable results for the network, which averaged 19.52 million viewers across nine games – eight Sunday night showcases and the NFL’s season opener on September 8 – to lead all broadcast partners through eight weeks. ESPN’s initial eight Monday Night Football telecasts netted 108 million total viewers for an average of 13.5 million per contest, with the opening week matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks drawing the network’s largest audience of the season to date – 18.95 million.

The NFL’s broadcast partners sharing Sunday afternoon coverage, CBS and FOX, enjoyed similar ratings through eight weeks. CBS earned an average audience of 4.44 million viewers across 47 games, while FOX averaged 4.43 million for its 48 broadcasts. Additionally, two games during the first half of the season were televised on NFL Network. The contests, which both took place in London, drew an average Sunday morning audience of 3.69 million households.

AFC Rivalry Draws Largest Audience

Arguably the most memorable playoff game in recent history took place in Kansas City last January when the Chiefs mounted multiple comebacks to defeat the Buffalo Bills in overtime to advance to the AFC championship. The excitement and intensity from that Divisional Round matchup carried over into the 2022 regular season, when the rematch on October 16 drew 23.31 million viewers on CBS – the most-watched game in the NFL through eight weeks of the campaign. Four other games in our analysis exceeded 20 million viewers, and they were all broadcast on NBC. The second-most watched game featured the Cowboys and Tampa Bay on opening weekend, earning 21.87 million household viewers. It was followed by the Buccaneers’ road trip to Kansas City in early October, which was watched in 21.02 million households. The NFC East matchup between Philadelphia and Dallas on October 16 was fourth in our rankings, and Buffalo at Green Bay rounded out the top five. The most-watched game on FOX through eight weeks was a battle between San Francisco and Kansas City on October 23. It drew 17.69 million fans in the late afternoon window and ranked 13th overall in our study.

Teams, Fan Bases Prepare for Playoff Push

Anticipation for an NFL opening weekend often seems never-ending, but the season speeds by faster than a wide receiver in the open field. The annual Thanksgiving Day contests next week signify the beginning of a league-wide playoff push that will endure until the final whistle in Week 18. Increased interest suggests the potential for elevated audience totals and heightened social media activity from team- and league-owned accounts. Stay connected with MVP in the coming months for further viewership analyses as well as social media examinations pertaining to the NFL, its teams, and their brand partners.

Contact Us

What to Expect

Let's have a call to understand your measurement goals.

Take a look at our product and methodology with a demo.

Align our products and services to your needs in a tailored package.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

You May Also Like