NFL Remains A Top-Rated Program

Despite declining NFL ratings, NFL games still dominate big chunks of overall viewership for TV networks and high-ranking individual telecasts in 2017.

Of the top 100 telecasts last year, 66 were regular-season NFL games (leaving out NFL Playoff games and the Super Bowl), according to MoffettNathanson Research.

Looking at individual TV networks, Fox maintained the highest gross rating points share for NFL viewing during the regular season, while “shoulder” programming earned 40%. Another 6% of Fox ratings for the year came from airing the Super Bowl in 2017.

MoffettNathanson said the NFL also represents a significant overall rating share at ESPN (15%), NBC (12%) and CBS (12%).

Still, looking at a two-year trend of viewership -- 2015-2017 -- key NFL series saw some steepening declines. “Thursday Night Football” (CBS/NBC/NFL Network) was down the most -- 13% -- on a compounded annual growth rate per total viewers on Nielsen C3 metric (average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time shifting).

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was off 10% over this two-year period; NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” slipped 9%; Fox’s Sunday afternoon NFL programming lost 8%; and CBS’ Sunday afternoon programming, fared the best, only losing 7%.

In 2017, MoffettNathanson says NFL prime-time programs posted the highest price for a 30-second commercial -- $700,000 for a spot on “Sunday Night Football”; $551,000 for NBC’s “Thursday Night Football” games; and $550,o00 on CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” games.

The highest-priced regular season prime-time entertainment shows in 2017 include NBC’s “This is Us” at $394,000 and CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” at $286,000.

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