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Sport Eagles-49ers 'Sunday Night Football' viewership drops but still tops ratings

23:30  05 october  2020
23:30  05 october  2020 Source:   yardbarker.com

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The NFL ratings have been one of the biggest stories in sports this fall, and the dip in viewership continued for NBC’s "Sunday Night Football" in Week 4 with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers game taking a hit.

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Philadelphia Eagles players celebrate after an incomplete pass by the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. © Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Philadelphia Eagles players celebrate after an incomplete pass by the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium.

A week after the "Sunday Night Football" clash between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints drew nearly 15 million viewers, still a sizable drop from the 2019 season, the NFL drew even fewer viewers on Sunday night.

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After a great matchup in Week 3, the NFL ran into some trouble for its "SNF" matchup. Not only did it compete against Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, but NBC also broadcasted a game between a struggling Eagles offense and the injury-plagued 49ers.

According to Deadline.com, the Week 4 "SNF" game drew 11.71 million viewers and had a 3.5 rating among the 18-49 demographic from the early numbers. While the final totals will likely be announced later on Monday, it is already a dip compared to the early numbers from the Week 3 "SNF" battle.

The Packers-Saints prime time game drew 14.43 million viewers with a 4.2 rating in the same audience demographic. It marked an improvement from Week 2, when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks had 14.09 million viewers. It’s a massive difference compared to 2019, when the Week 3 "SNF" game between the Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys drew an astounding 24 million viewers with a 13.7 rating.

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While NBC took a hit from its last "SNF" broadcast, it still dominated the night and beat out "60 Minutes" (11.23 million). ABC’s telecast of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which drew just 4.08 million viewers with a 1.5 rating. With the Lakers leading the series 2-0, many fans seemingly tuned out.

Just a few days after the "Thursday Night Football" ratings for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets game, it’s clear a familiar outcome is emerging for the NFL this season.

NFL viewership during the 2020 season


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Across sports, television ratings have been down during the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB has struggled to draw an audience during its postseason, the NHL had the least-watched Stanley Cup in over a decade and the ratings for the NBA playoffs plummeted. When the NFL season began, it was evident that viewership would dip this season.

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  • In Week 1, the NFL Kickoff Game saw a dramatic decrease in viewership, with NBC suffering a staggering hit to its ratings.
  • Things got worse for the “Sunday Night Football” opener, with another dip in viewership compared to 2019.
  • ESPN’s season-opening "Monday Night Football" doubleheader went through a steep drop from its ratings for both games.
  • "Thursday Night Football," broadcasted exclusively on NFL Network for the first three games, took a dive in Week 2 and lost nearly 1 million viewers in Week 3.

It is evident that the NFL is losing a significant chunk of its audience this year, but it is still standing strong as the dominant force on television every day there is an NFL game. In fact, no other sport or broadcast is really coming even close to matching football’s prowess.

  • The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens thriller on "Monday Night Football" in Week 3 was ratings gold for ESPN, enjoying a 32% increase from the Week 3 "MNF" broadcast in 2019.
  • Coming into Week 4, the NFL had the 15 highest-rated shows through the first three weeks of the season. Even with some numbers down, ESPN, NFLN, NBC, FOX and CBS were all benefiting from football’s return.

Owning a night or afternoon on television is everything for major networks and advertisers. It’s why the NFL could net $8 billion to $10 billion annually by 2022 when new broadcasting contracts kick in.

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As of now, FOX is already set to provide a new record-breaking offer for expanded broadcasting rights to games in future seasons. On top of that, ESPN could bid for the chance to broadcast future Super Bowls. With the NFL’s contracts with every major network set to expire soon and a renewal with Amazon for the streaming rights to "TNF" finished, money is coming.

The NFL will come out of this feeling good, especially in comparison to other leagues. However, it is still losing millions of TV viewers.

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