Remember when the NFL was on the way out because ratings dropped from absolutely crazy absurd to just very good and still better than everybody else? As it turns out, very good and still better than everybody is appears to be sufficient enough for the time being, and the league has retained that status.
A list of the top 100 most-watched television programs of 2018 was recently published, and as you can gather, a very large percentage of the entrances on the list were NFL games. And remember, this is for 2018, so it doesn’t even include the postseason for that year, though of course it includes the 2017 season’s playoffs, the year in which were concerns were expressed over a ratings dip.
64 NFL games were accounted for among the 100 most-watched programs last year, among 89 total sporting events. And that was during an Olympic year, with the Olympics drawing 13 of the top programs in 2018. Outside of the Olympics, college football had the second-most programs on the list with six. The NBA had four.
The seven most-viewed programs of 2018 were all NFL games, as well. So, as I have already addressed a number of times, if it’s true that the NFL’s ratings are down, it is only because ratings are down all across the board, with more people choosing to cut the cord and use streaming services for their entertainment instead of traditional television. Within that landscape, the NFL remains king, and it’s not close.
“The value of live content, and specifically the NFL, to uniquely aggregate audiences is becoming more and more special”, Hans Schroeder, the league media’s COO said. “We always in the NFL over long periods of time have been focused on getting the widest reach and distribution of our content. We’re the one league that requires all our games to be over the air in some way, shape, or form. But generally the vast, vast majority of our games are very widely distributed and that’s something that we think has really driven our success over time”.
In fact, they are only becoming more successful, as the gap between themselves and their competition in the same time slots rose by six percent in 2018 in comparison to the previous year. Live sports, and live entertainment in general, remains a strong draw for networks.
Meanwhile, the NFL is embarking on new ventures with their broadcasting partners, bringing in more and more money for the rights, which serves as an additional sign that their brand remains as strong as it ever has.
At the same time, they also have to make sure that they don’t get left behind in the digital wars. For most Americans, the NFL currently does not offer a live streaming option for the vast majority of their games, which is pretty astounding.