Two-thirds of the way through the NFL regular season has seen average game ratings down 9% to a Nielsen-measured 14.5 million viewers, looking at all league regularly scheduled series.
Analysts point to COVID-19 disruptions for the decline. A number of NFL games have been postponed due to the pandemic. Earlier in the season, some Sunday afternoon games were rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday prime-time slots.
No games have been cancelled. Up until now, the NFL has had the benefit of “bye” weeks for teams -- leaving them room for rescheduling.
One NFL Thanksgiving game -- NBC’s prime-time Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens contest -- has been reschedule for a Sunday time slot, due to the Ravens athletes/staff COVID-19 infections. Two other Thanksgiving games on CBS (Houston-Detroit) and Fox (Washington-Dallas) will continue at press time.
Fox’s main afternoon national Sunday game is averaging 19.6 million viewers in Nielsen live program/same day ratings -- down from 20.2 million a year ago through 11 weeks.
CBS main Sunday-afternoon national game is at 17.9 million viewers -- 18.9 million in 2019 through 11 weeks. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is at 16.4 million viewers, down from 19.7 million a year ago.
Fox-NFL Network's “Thursday Night Football” has been averaging 13.0 million viewers, down from 14.7 million a year ago. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is at 11.5 million from 11.9 million.