Saturday, September 11, 2021

TV Ratings: NFL Kickoff Highest In Six Years

Nielsen data showed that an average of 24.4 million viewers tuned in for the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys, reports The L-A Times. The surprisingly close contest was decided by a field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

Another 1.6 million viewers streamed the telecast on various platforms, bringing the total average audience to 26 million, according to NBC.

The figure is 20% above last year’s 21.6 million for the opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. The total will be the highest for an NFL opener since 2015, when 27.4 million viewers watched the New England Patriots face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The number is likely generating a sigh of relief at NFL headquarters and the executive suites of the media companies that carry its games. A full slate of games, including the Chargers’ opener against Washington on CBS and the Rams’ matchup with the Chicago Bears on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” begins Sunday.

Nearly every big television event has seen a significant audience decline in the past year as the pandemic accelerated the trend away from traditional TV viewing to streaming video online.

The latest example is NBC’s prime-time coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was down a staggering 42% from 2016, in part because viewers had so many online options to watch the competition live.

Several network sports executives have said the demand for ad time for the current season has been robust. NBC said it has pulled in a record $6.5 million for a 30-second spot on Super Bowl LVI, an 18% increase over the price for Super Bowl LV on CBS.

The NFL’s new contract for media rights finalized in March saw a 100% increase to nearly $9 billion a year. The deal takes effect on ESPN and Amazon Prime in 2022 and kicks in for CBS, NBC and Fox in 2023.

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