Sports TV Scores Huge Gains, Dominates TV Programming

Sports on TV -- and other screens  -- continues to dominate.

In the last 10 years, the available hours of sports programming have increased by 232%, according to Nielsen. When it comes to actual viewing, Nielsen says there were 33 billion hours of national sports TV programming viewed in 2013, up 27% from the 26 billion hours consumed in 2003.

While actual sports TV viewing makes up 1.2% of all TV programming, digital conversations about sports made up nearly half of all Tweets about TV -- at 49.7%.

The NFL has not only been the biggest sports TV franchise -- but perhaps the biggest TV programming franchise overall, lifting NBC to top honors in the fall, care of “Sunday Night Football.” It has also contributed to higher C3 prime-time ratings in January for CBS and Fox, due to its respective AFC and NFC championship series.

Overall for 2013, ratings for NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN and NFL Network all witnessed growth for NFL programming. Collectively, NFL regular-season games averaged 17.4 million viewers in 2013 versus 16.6 million in 2012.

Nielsen says men are still the dominant NFL viewers at 65%; females are at 35%. The largest age group: those 55 and older, making up a 37% share, with 35-54 viewers comprising a 34% share.

The top NFL advertisers/brands are Bud Light, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Southwest Airlines and DirecTV.

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