NFL TV Ratings Down Double Digits, Total TV Up

Through five weeks of the TV season, NFL programming continues to be sharply down -- but overall total TV viewing is up slightly.

Total TV consumption -- looking at viewers 2+ -- is up 2.2%, according to Nielsen live program-plus-same day measures. By comparison, the NFL games are down 14.6% in total viewers, according to Pivotal Research Group.

While much lower NFL viewing cuts across many segments, Wieser notes that one area in particular has seen a drop: Lower-income households among 18-49 viewers -- those making $75,000 or less -- are down 28% versus a year ago. Higher-income homes -- those making more than $75,000 -- are down 14.1%

NFL games, which air on CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and the NFL Network, account for 8.6% of all TV viewing on a Nielsen live program-plus-three days of time-shifted viewing basis.

But Brian Wieser, senior research analyst of Pivotal Research Group, says: “With higher-than-average pricing for ad inventory, the [NFL] programming is disproportionately important beyond those viewing shares in terms of ad revenue.”

Wieser says marketers still prize this programming, given the NFL’s relatively high ratings versus buying more advertising units on much lower-rated TV programs.

But the dip does not cover all football. Wieser notes that college football TV programming is up 0.5% over the same comparative time periods.



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