Football Viewership Is Back
September 29, 2021
By Rich Nachmias
Football is back and better than ever. Viewership is up, fans have returned to stadiums, and streaming platforms are making significant plays to try and get in the game.
The 2020 NFL season was unlike any other; the league continued throughout a global pandemic but with a key element missing: the fans. During a time when viewer content consumption was at an all-time high, surprisingly, the 2020 NFL season ratings were the lowest in years. The lack of fans able to cheer on their teams in stadiums seems to have made a tremendous impact on sports fans’ overall passion for last season. The average weekly viewership at the end of last season was 16.3 million, a significant dip from the 2019 season. However, this year’s kickoff weekend saw a 7% increase, with an average of 17.4 million viewers per week for the 16 games played. This swing landed the NFL games in the top six broadcasts for the last week, with nearly 23.2 billion minutes viewed, making this the top week-one minutes in more than five years. Will this successful start continue? We’ll have to wait and see. One thing is clear: This not only adds to the excitement for the fans in the stands, it’s also good for business.
What other changes are on the horizon in the world of football viewership? With NBC’s coveted Sunday night ticket opening after the 2022/23 season, streaming networks are lining up to get in on the action. Amazon begins its contract hosting Thursday night football exclusively in 2022 and is also currently one of the front runners in talks to take over the steaming rights for the Sunday night slot. To ensure a successful launch with quality viewership for the Thursday night slot, and perhaps prove itself worthy of the Sunday position, Amazon is working to bring in top-flight commentators to host each week and are already beginning to promote next year’s launch. Could it be that the great play-by-play announcer Al Michaels knows something we don’t? Michaels’ contract with NBC ends after Super Bowl LVI, and he is said to be in talks with Amazon about a potential move.
It’s too soon to tell how everything will shake out for the sought-after Sunday night slot, so we’ll just have to wait and see if Netflix, Hulu or some other contenders have anything in their playbooks.