Tim Yotter/Scout.com

NFL dominates television ratings

The NFL continues to draw television viewers like no other show, as the 2015 season proved.

The nation’s football obsession continues into the new year.

NFL games accounted for the top 25 most-watched shows on television between the start of the 2015 season through the conclusion of the regular season and show no signs of slowing down.

The Thanksgiving Day game between the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys was the top-watched show, averaging 32.5 million viewers. In fact, there was a Cowboys theme in the top three shows.

Their game with the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 1 was No. 2, drawing an average of 29.4 million viewers, and their game with the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 13 drew 28.9 viewers on average. The station didn’t matter much, as the Thanksgiving game was on CBS and the other two on FOX.

The NFL accounted for 46 of the top 50 most-watched shows since the 2015 season kicked off on Sept. 10, and two non-NFL shows that still had a football theme took two of the other four spots in the top 50. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade that precedes the Rose Bowl registered at No. 30 and the College Football Playoff semifinal game between Michigan State Spartans and Alabama Crimson Tide was 49th.

The data was compiled between Sept. 10 and the end of the NFL regular season, meaning the National Championship Game on Monday night didn’t factor. Nor did the first round of the NFL playoffs, where the Minnesota Vikings and Seahawks became the most-watched early Sunday first-round playoff game in NFL history, averaging 35.3 million viewers and peaking at nearly 44 million viewers for the finish of the third-coldest game in NFL history. That was about a 27 percent increase from last year’s early Sunday wild card game and would have topped the charts for the top 50 if the period extended into the playoffs.

The two non-football-related shows that made it into the top 50 were the GOP debate and “New Year’s Rockin Eve, Part I.”

Of the top 46 NFL games that registered among the top 50 most-watched shows, 41 percent of them (19 games) drew at least 25 million viewers on average, 24 percent of them (11 games) drew 22 to 24.9 million and 35 percent of them (16 games) averaged 18 to 21.9 million viewers.

“Sunday Night Football” on NBC averaged 22.5 million viewers (its most-watched season), “NFL on FOX” averaged 20.7 million (second-most watched regular-season ever), and “NFL on CBS” averaged 19.1 million (the highest ratings on that network since CBS returned to broadcasting NFL games in 1998).

The data was compiled by NFL and Nielsen Media Research and Same Day Data Stream with a minimum telecast length of 25 minutes.


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