NFL Regular Season Wrap: Ratings, Viewership, Up Across the Board

Posted by | January 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Viewership increased for all five NFL broadcast partners during the 2013 regular season.

Four the fourth straight year, NBC was the highest rated and most-viewed NFL broadcaster during the regular season. The network’s 19 game slate averaged a 12.8 final rating and 21.7 million viewers, flat in ratings and up 2% in viewership from last year (12.8, 21.4M), and down 1% and up 1%, respectively, from 2011 (12.9, 21.5M). The 2013 season was the second-most viewed on NBC since the network resumed airing games in 2006.

Ranking a very close second, FOX averaged a 12.5 rating and 21.5 million viewers for 27 telecasts — up 6% in ratings and 8% in viewership from last year (11.8, 19.7M), and up 4% and 6%, respectively, from 2011 (12.0, 20.1M). The season ranked as the most-viewed ever on FOX and tied as the highest rated.

As usual, CBS was a distant third behind NBC and FOX during the regular season. The network averaged an 11.1 and 18.7 million viewers for its 27 telecasts, up 4% in ratings and 6% in viewership from last year (10.7, 17.7M), and the most-viewed season for the AFC package since at least 1987.

Shifting to cable, ESPN averaged an 8.6 U.S. rating and 13.7 million viewers for 17 “Monday Night Football” telecasts — up 5% in ratings and 7% in viewership from last year (8.2, 12.8M), up 2% and 3%, respectively, from 2011 (8.4, 13.3M), and the third-best averages for “MNF” since ESPN acquired rights in 2006.

NFL Network rounded out the slew of increases with record-highs for its 13-game “Thursday Night Football” schedule. The network averaged a 4.4 U.S. rating and 7.1 million viewers, up 10% in ratings and 11% in viewership from last year (4.0, 6.4M), up 22% and 14%, respectively, from 2011 (3.6, 6.2M), and its best performance since acquiring games in 2006. The averages do not include the Sunday night Chargers/Broncos game that was added to the schedule in October.

(Season averages from Fox Sports, ESPN, NBC Sports Group Press Box, CBS Press Express, Sports Business Daily)