The NFL’s Dominance in TV Ratings: A Reflection of America’s Sports Culture

The sports world was reminded of two important things over the last few months: the presence of Taylor Swift is a game-changer and the people who once claimed they’d never watch the NFL again because Black players kneeled are bonafide liars.

Earlier this week, the NFL and CBS announced that Super Bowl LVIII delivered the most-watched telecast in history with a Total Audience Delivery of 123.4 million average viewers across all platforms, including the CBS Television Network, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, and CBS Sports and NFL digital properties, including NFL+. Last Sunday’s game was up seven percent from last season’s contest (Chiefs-Eagles), which held the previous record of 115.1 million viewers.

By 2021, 75 of the top-100 most watched broadcasts in this country were NFL games. In 2022, that number was 82. Last year, it was 93. According to a report by the Sports Business Journal from November, NFL viewership was at an eight-year high with a per-game average of 17.2 million viewers, which was the highest since 2015 through nine weeks. At points during last season we learned that NBC had at least 22 million people watching Sunday Night Football. CBS was having its best run in eight years. FOX was pulling in at least 17.6 million viewers. ESPN/ABC/ESPN2 weren’t too far behind. NFL Network and Prime Video were also up. Last year’s NFL Draft was a foreshadower as the three-day event drew 54.4 million viewers — 5.3 million more than in 2022.

With March Madness a month away, college basketball will be back on the scene. That leaves the NBA with an added conundrum, as they need to figure out a way to garner more viewers.

In all seriousness, the NBA has to figure out something, given that it’s the league that’s trailing the NFL and college football, and doesn’t have a month that it owns as college basketball has with March.