NFL Narrows TV Viewership Declines, National Ad Revenues See Uptick

Through nine weeks of the NFL regular season, TV ratings have narrowed viewing declines versus earlier-season results. All TV advertising revenues on NFL networks have inched up versus a year ago.

Looking at all TV network games -- on NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN, and NFL Network -- total average viewers are down 5% to a Nielsen 14.7 million viewers through November 6, from 15.5 million a year ago. This is less than the 10% to 15% declines in total viewership after the initial weeks of the NFL season.

TV networks have added $320 million in national TV advertising to total $1.76 billion versus $1.44 billion through nine weeks of the season — not including the most recent ESPN “Monday Night Football” game — per

Standard Media Index says NFL TV networks have added more TV commercial inventory to games -- up 2% versus a year ago.



In September, SMI says the average 30-second commercial across all networks --- upfront and scatter TV deals -- showed that NFL games were up 4% to $489,193.

Sunday afternoon NFL programming on Fox and CBS has seen an 11% increase in the cost per 30-second commercial. NBC earned a 9% gain “Sunday Night Football.” CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” was flat versus the same time last year; ESPN had a double-digit decline.

In terms of total revenue for September, SMI says NBC and Fox grew 4% and 5%, respectively, despite weak early-season NFL ratings.

Some 517 different brands have aired on NFL games so far versus 501 brands a year ago, says -- with automotive advertisers spending the most $345 million.

3 comments about "NFL Narrows TV Viewership Declines, National Ad Revenues See Uptick".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 9, 2017 at 11:08 a.m.

    I thought Domino's was reevaluating its big ad buy because of sales declines. "Narrowing a decline" is pure spin. Viewing remains down even if ad rates climb. "Flat" is apparently the new "up"

  2. Linda Moskal from WNPV Radio replied, November 9, 2017 at 11:26 a.m.

    Face it.  It doesn't matter how many people watch or don't watch, the important measure is the amount of money it brings in.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 9, 2017 at 2:24 p.m.

    It doesn't matter if the ratings are lower. Sports sponsorships are about image and promotional tie-ins, not rating levels, CPMs or demos. That's why they will continue to attract more and more spending---unless the players and leagues get too greedy and make it impossible for all but a few well healed advertisers to buy into TV sports---which would be a very stupid move.It remains to be seen whether the players eventually kill the golden goose that lays their golden eggs. For now, rating losses of the magnitude cited aren't the huge problem they are made out to be---but at the same time, I wouldn't ignore them entirely when it comes to renewing my contracts with the leagues were I ESPN--or any other TV network.

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