Sports On Viewers' Top Of Mind -- As Off-The-Field Activities Make For Reality TV

So what are the odds that NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” will be number one again in viewership for the 2015-2016 season? Pretty good.

NFL continues to deliver stable TV ratings -- even with controversial  on- and off-the-field drama.  The league has taken some lumps over the past few years for concussions and medical issues, as well as domestic violence issues.

NBC executives have been upbeat, of course. “Sunday Night Football” has been number one in regular season TV prime-time ratings for four years now and has been on the air for 10 seasons.

Even without the extraneous drama, TV sports continue to be a big draw, as scripted and other regular network content continues to witness declining viewership.

ABC benefited from sharply higher ratings from the NBA Finals this past June. CBS will continue to get boosts from the second season of its “Thursday Night Football” games.

And next year NBC has the Summer Olympics in Rio, which will be perhaps a bigger draw in the U.S. due to Rio’s time zone only being a hour ahead of the Eastern time zone.



Here’s the history: The Summer Olympics in London averaged 31.1 million Nielsen viewers on NBC -- 12% higher than the Beijing Olympics and 26% higher than the Summer Athens Olympics.

Some analysts wondered whether off-the-field drama -- especially with the NFL -- will hurt viewership. Doesn’t appear to be that way -- especially in looking at football viewing data of a year ago.

Reality TV? The only high-rated reality TV is sports, and the NFL in particular, says Al Michaels, play-by-play announcer for NBC “Sunday Night Football: “It has created more interest in the league, not less,” he said, speaking at the recent Television Critics Association meeting.
And that’s what big media companies continue to count on.

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