26 million viewers…
The NFL went into kickoff weekend hoping to increase its audience compared to last season. The league’s opener is the most watched in six years.
Thursday night’s 31-29 victory by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Dallas Cowboys averaged approximately 26 million viewers on NBC, Peacock and the NFL’s digital platforms according to preliminary data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.
It is a 20% increase over last year’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texas and the largest audience for an NFL opener since the Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots game in 2015 averaged 27.4 million.
The 2020 Season was played during the pandemic. With empty stadiums making for a bizarre viewing environment and people’s viewing habits shifting, it is not surprising that many viewers have changed their viewing habits.
The average of 24.4 million viewers on NBC makes it television’s most-watched show since February’s Super Bowl on CBS. The audience peaked at 25.4 million between 9: 45-10 p.m. ET.
Although the league’s television deal won’t be in effect until 2023,, some elements will take effect this season. This includes doubleheaders on Fox and CBS. The featured 4: 25 p.m. ET games will feature Cleveland against Kansas City on CBS, and Green Bay facing New Orleans on Fox in Jacksonville. Because Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Ida, the game was moved to New Orleans. The league allowed doubleheaders to be broadcast on Fox and CBS during the final week in the regular season. That means both networks will have 10 doubleheader weeks as the league expands to 17 games over 18 weeks for the first time.
Sunday marks the first time CBS will air a Week 1 doubleheader in its history. It was impossible for CBS to air a doubleheader in the first week of the season because it carried the U.S. Open tennis tournament. This is now on ESPN.
Mike North is the NFL’s vice president for broadcast planning. He said that although the numbers for Fox and CBS might drop in the final window due to Fox and CBS having a doubleheader, they could still have an increase overall.
Last season, the Week 1 Sunday afternoon games averaged 18.1 million while the entire slate for the week averaged 16.3 million. Because it is just one game, the ESPN Monday night numbers should be better. The ABC simulcast will also show it. The debut of the Mannings megacast feed (Peyton & Eli) on ESPN2 will be marked by the Baltimore-Las Vegas match.
” We are cautiously optimistic about this season, given what we saw last season and the challenges we have to overcome. North stated that he didn’t know if North would predict a number.
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