Another Sunday NFL TV Test

Will more people watch this week’s games?



It’s Sunday which means another NFL TV ratings test. It seems that all eyes are on the declining NFL TV ratings. But the NFL is not the only programming taking a nose dive in the ratings. Perhaps it is time to look at society and TV watching as a whole. Baby boomers grew up with televisions and were glued to the set and still are as the television in their youth was a celestial cathedral that offered entertainment. Their children and grandchildren don’t have the same TV affinity.  TV also brought sports into the household with boxing as a mainstay in the early days of TV. But boxing faded away from TV. The World Series is not the event it once was. Baby boomers still watch baseball, the subsequent generations are not watching baseball the way their parents and grandparents did. The same seems to be true in football. In the prized 18 to 34-year-old men category, NFL ratings are down by double digits. There may be an ongoing concern for all sports owners. Now some of that loss on the TV side has been offset with people watching on digital devices.


All aspects of television have been either infected or impacted by viewer erosion. Across the board, network TV viewership is down. NBC is down 4%, CBS is down 6%, ABC is down 11%, and Fox’s prime time viewership dropped 20% through the first month of the new television season, according to Nielsen which oversees the numbers. Of course, there are far more choices available today than even in 1998 when roughly 76 million viewers tuned into the final episode of Seinfeld on May 14. Going into November, the two months of NFL broadcasts produced 17 of TV’s top 20 over-the-air TV nationally ranked in the fall 2017 TV season of shows which started on September 25. The NFL TV numbers remain pretty good.


The NFL talk in November usually is about teams making a playoff push, this year it is declining TV ratings.