NFL regular-season ratings increase 5% from 2018 taking them to the highest in three years
The NFL has released the statistics for TV and digital viewerships during the regular season as it gears up for the playoffs this weekend, and it makes for a positive reading, with viewership at a three-year high.
More than 182 million people tuned in to sample a game during the year, a figure which represents the highest viewership the league has drawn since the 2016 season, according to Deadline. Across all the networks with the right to air games, an average of 16.7 million viewers watched on both linear and digital platforms, a five percent increase compared to last year.
Digital viewership, in particular, has seen a marked improvement. Across all platforms, including the NFL's apps and sites, mobile devices and network-affiliated digital outlets, viewership averaged 487,000, a 51 percent improvement over last year.
The main drivers of this digital consumption were Amazon Prime Video's 'Thursday Night Football,' the second-year of Verizon's full-season streaming availability, and an ongoing migration towards streaming.
The NFL revealed that the five most-watched games this year were Buffalo at Dallas during Week 13 with 32.6 million viewers (CBS), Dallas at New England during Week 12 with 29.9 million viewers (Fox), Kansas City at New England during Week 14 with 28.3 million viewers (CBS), Chicago at Detroit during Week 13 with 25.7 million viewers (Fox), and Dallas at Philadelphia during Week 16 with 25.7 million viewers (Fox).
Deadline reported that another reason for the increase in viewership was due to the fact that controversies from previous seasons -- kneeling during the national anthem, discussions around concussions et al -- no longer had the same impact this season.
There was also an increased excitement around the emergence of the Baltimore Ravens, starring Lamar Jackson, as well as the fact that several teams remained with a chance to make the playoffs during what was a highly-competitive season.
The viewership had also, unsurprisingly, spiked across individual networks. Fox reported it had recorded a seven percent increase compared to 2018, with an average audience of 19.8 million, with NBC similarly revealing that its 'Sunday Night Football' was on pace for its ninth straight year as the top primetime program on TV.