NFL Viewership Rises 10% as Close Games Bring Fans Back
(Bloomberg) -- The NFL’s regular season viewership rose 10%, benefiting broadcasters and advertisers after the previous year’s drop.
About 17.1 million viewers tuned in to regular season games on TV and online. It was the highest regular season audience for the NFL since 2015, according to a statement from the league.
With the audience for dramas and comedies on traditional TV falling, NFL games continue to dominate the ratings, ranking as 91 of the top 100 telecasts this season, the league said.
The ratings improvement is welcome news to media companies like ViacomCBS Inc., Comcast Corp.’s NBC, Fox Corp., Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and Amazon.com Inc., which have made long-term bets on the sport’s popularity. They agreed last year to spend $105 billion on NFL broadcast rights for another decade.
The viewer numbers recovered from a 7% last drop season, the first decline in three years. Last season’s tumble could be blamed in part on the pandemic, including scheduling disruptions, making this season a better test of the NFL’s longer-term value as a draw for advertisers.
The ratings this season likely benefited from a large number of close games. There were 34 games decided by a game-winning score on the final play -– the most ever in a single season, the league said.
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