NFL Week 1 ratings rose 7% over last season

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The NFL kickoff weekend ended up having the second highest TV ratings for Week 1 over the last five seasons.

The 16 games averaged 17.4 million viewers on television and digital properties. This is an increase of 7% compared to last season (16.3 million on average) and almost equal to 2019, which averaged 17.6 million and remains the highest since 2017.

The number is likely to increase after last season was played during the pandemic, where empty stadiums presented a strange viewing dynamic and many people’s viewing habits changed. The first half of the season also took place in the middle of a presidential campaign when some people watched cable news channels.

NFL games ranked as the top six broadcasts of the past week. Nearly 23.2 billion minutes were seen, making it the largest Week 1 minutes in total since 2016.

ESPN and Nielsen reported that Monday night’s overtime thriller between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens averaged $ 15.3 million on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. It’s the most watched Monday Night Football Week 1 game since 2013, when Philadelphia in Washington averaged 16.5 million. That included 800,000 for Manning’s Megacast with Peyton and Eli on ESPN2.

The most watched game of the week last Thursday night was the 31-29 victory of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Dallas Cowboys. That was an average of 26.4 million viewers on NBC and digital, making it the most watched first game of the season since 2015.

NBC averaged 22.8 million for Thursday and Sunday games, an increase of 11% over last year.

The league’s new television deal will not officially start until 2023, but some elements have started with the season being extended to 17 matches over 18 weeks. This was the first year both CBS and Fox had doubleheaders in Week 1.

CBS reported the highest attendance at a Sunday game with an average of 19.54 million to the 16:25 ET game between the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. It is also the network’s second most watched window in the opening week since it resumed gaming in 1998.

CBS doubleheader averaged 16.59 million viewers, an increase of 21% over last year. It was the first time CBS has had a week 1 doubleheader since 2015. For many years, it could not air a doubleheader on opening week because it carried the US Open tennis tournament.

Fox, which had Green Bay and New Orleans, averaged 16.24 million for the 16:25 window and 13.57 million for the doublehead.

The NFL said the two late windows on Sunday pulled 6.3 billion in total minutes, the highest on record for Week 1 since tracking began in 1988.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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