NFL

NFL Week 1 ratings spike 7% from last year

The start of the NFL's regular season brought some encouraging numbers in terms of televsion audience, as viewership bounced back after the COVID pandemic.

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NFL Week 1 ratings spike 7% from last year
JAMIE SQUIRE AFP

The NFL’s opening weekend saw a considerable spike in ratings in comparison to last year, as the league kicked off what they are calling the “biggest season ever.”

17 game season the "biggest ever" in NFL

The NFL’s branding of this season as the biggest ever is based on the fact that there was a 17th game added to the schuedule for teams around the league, which means more football, more sponsors, more tickets sold, and ultimately more money.

Money moves the NFL, and TV ratings are king. Week 1 had the second highest TV ratings in the last five years, and saw a 7% spike from the 2020 opening weekend.

Fans back in stadiums, but TV audiences grew from 2020

There was an average of 17.4 million viewers tuned in to each on the 16 games across the NFL over the weekend, which was over 900,000 more average viewers that last year. When you take into consideration that at the beginning of last year, fans were not allowed in the stadiums this has to be a comforting statistic for the league.

Monday night’s instant classic between the Baltimore Ravens and the Las Vegas Raiders captured an average audience of 15.3 million across the ESPN and ABC platforms. It was the most viewed Week 1 Monday Night Football game since 2013 when the then Washington Redskins hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and drew a television crowd of 16.5 million.

Bucs vs Cowboys the main event of opening week

Peyton and Eli Manning’s “Manning Megacast” drew another 800,00 viewers on ESPN 2, which contributed to the big jump in numbers from last year to this year.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys attracted the biggest audience of Week 1, as 26.4 million spectators tuned in to the Bucs 31-29 last minute win over America’s team. Thursday’s TV ratings were the best for the opening game of the season since 2015.

CBS and FOX tag team for a dual double header

The Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs game was the most viewed on CBS with a shade under 20 million tuning in, while Fox’s broadcast of the Green Bay New Orleans game averaged 16.24 million in the second window of games.

This was the first year ever that both CBS and FOX aired double headers in Week 1. CBS has had the late slot saved for coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament since 2015, but double headers on each network gave the NFL a chance to increase the Nielsen ratings from last year.

According to the NFL there was a total of 6.3 billion total minutes drawn in the two late windows, which was the highest for a Week 1 since 1988 when the league started tracking ratings.