After the national anthem controversy took a toll on NFL last fall, pushing down TV ratings, the games’ performance recovered in 2018, with the main football franchises all posting year-to-year gains.
The recently concluded 13th season of NBC’s Sunday Night Football drew an average of 19.3 million Live+same day viewers, up 7% from last year. SNF is projected to finish as primetime’s No. 1 TV show in all key metrics for the 2018-19 season for an eighth consecutive year, based on official L+SD data provided by Nielsen. That is believed to be the longest such streak, topping American Idol‘s six consecutive Vo.1 finishes when the singing competition series was on Fox. (Compared with 2017, SNF was down by a fraction, -2%.)
ESPN’s Monday Night Football (11.65 million viewers) was up 8% vs. 2017 and also up 2% vs. 2016. MNF finished the season as the most-watched series on cable for the second straight calendar year.
In its debut season on Fox, Thursday Night Football drew 14.3 million viewers (Fox+NFL Network). That was higher than the 2017 averages on both CBS (14.23 million on CBS+NFLN) and NBC (13.58 million on NBC+NFLN), which shared the franchise. (TNF also was below its 2016 benchmark.)
Among adults 18-49, Sunday Night Football averaged a 6.1 rating, ranking as primetime television’s No. 1 show for the 11th consecutive fall TV season. That appears to be a tad below last year (6.2) and also down from 2016 (6.7). Thursday Night Football‘s 2018 demo tally was 4.4, while Monday Night Football was at 3.8.