While the National Football League is beguiled by Congressional reports and lawsuits, none of that seems to be affecting its popularity on television. The Nielsen Company has closed the books on the 2015-16 television season, and the numbers for NFL TV couldn’t be much better.
In terms of total average viewers, programming involving the NFL claimed the top two spots according to Nielsen. Going down the list reveals NFL programming nabbed half of the top six spots, and four of the top 11.
NBC‘s Sunday Night Football was the No. 1 show during the 2015-16 season, averaging over 21 million viewers weekly. Second to that was Thursday Night Football on CBS, boasting a number of 17 million plus viewers on average.
Fox‘s Sunday post-game show, “The OT,” averaged nearly 13 million viewers, grabbing sixth place on the list. NBC‘s Sunday night product pays off again, as Part 3 of its Sunday Night Football broadcasts collected nearly 12 million viewers, good for 11th place.
You have to travel a ways down the list to find the next sports-related program, but it’s another NBC/NFL product. Sunday Night Football Part 2 comes in 67th with just over 5 million viewers.
The first non-NFL sports programming on the list of the top 151 programs from 2015-16 according to Nielsen is all the way down at No. 69, and it’s still football. ABC‘s Saturday Night College Football claimed over 5 million viewers on average.
You can’t find a non-football sports-related program until No. 108, when ABC’s Saturday primetime National Basketball Association airing totaled an average of almost 3.5 million viewers. Following it closely at No. 110 with just under 3.4 million viewers on average, however, is Fox’s college football.
ABC’s NBA Countdown is the final sports program represented in Nielsen’s Top 151 from 2015-16, with just over 1.8 million viewers on average. That places the program at No. 140.
The big takeaway from these numbers is that advertising during NFL airtime will continue to demand a premium, and so will the rights to broadcast the games when the current contracts expire.