Three weeks into the NFL season, there has been an 8% increase in overall average game viewership versus a year ago to 16.1 million Nielsen-measured viewers.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” series has seen major improvement -- up 5% to 19 million viewers for the first three games versus 18.1 million viewers a year ago.
On Sunday afternoon, for five games on linear TV, CBS has been averaging 17.2 million viewers. Through four games a year ago, CBS was at 14.7 million. That’s a significant increase of 17% year-over-year.
ABC/ESPN's “Monday Night Football” is also a big winner percentage-wise -- scoring a 9% increase to 14.6 million viewers versus 13.4 million a year before.
"Monday Night Football" had a simultaneous airing on ABC and ESPN for the first "MNF" game.
In the other two “MNF” games, ESPN also benefited from simultaneous airings on sister service ESPN2, featuring entertaining “MNF” analysis from Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as some as guest athletes.
The biggest game of the year to date was the NFL Kickoff game on NBC. The Super Bowl champions -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- beat the Dallas Cowboys in a close contest. That earned 24.8 million viewers, up 19% from the game a year ago.
This year on Fox, also for five games, the network is at 16.2 million linear Nielsen-measured TV viewers. A year ago, Fox came in at 18.1 million viewers through three weeks.
In 2020, Fox had the best Nielsen number of any NFL game through this period: 25.8 million viewers for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New Orleans Saints game in Week One, featuring longtime New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on his new Tampa Bay team.
The NFL says with the addition of digital platform viewing to linear TV -- through the first two weeks -- overall viewership grew 14% to 17.7 million versus a year ago.
Television News Daily's analysis of Nielsen data for just linear TV for those first two weeks recorded an 11% bump to 16.6 million viewers versus a year earlier.