Amazon And ESPN Lag Behind Networks On NFL Viewership, Ratings Reveal
Ratings for Amazon and ESPN’s respective primetime NFL broadcasts lagged behind those of its competitors, as the e-commerce giant turned streamer and the Disney subsidiary each struggle to keep pace with the NFL’s basic cable partners
NBC’s primetime broadcasts averaged 19.9 million viewers during the 2022 regular season, while CBS and Fox’s afternoon broadcasts brought in 18.5 million and 19.4 million viewers, respectively, with both CBS and Fox attracting about 24 million average viewers for their respective late afternoon national broadcasts, the networks independently announced Tuesday afternoon, citing Nielsen Media data.
That’s NBC’s highest NFL viewership since 2019, CBS’ top mark since 2015 and Fox’s best ratings since 2016, even as linear television viewership dwindled across the board.
Amazon, which began exclusively broadcasting the NFL’s Thursday primetime contests on its Prime streaming service this year, and ESPN, which airs the league’s Monday night games on cable, had far less luck than their peers.
Amazon averaged 9.6 million viewers for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, according to Nielsen data, 41% less than the package’s 2021 average audience of 16.4 million, which was partially skewed by a special Saturday broadcast on Christmas 2021 that drew 28.6 million viewers.
ESPN averaged 13.4 million viewers on its NFL broadcasts excluding last week’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals that was canceled after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field, the network told Forbes, citing Nielsen data, down slightly from 2021 but the network’s third-best NFL viewership since 2010.
During the first year of its 11-year, $13 billion deal with the NFL, Amazon self-reported an average average audience of 11.3 million viewers citing in-house metrics and emphasized the growth among younger viewers in a statement. The most-ever Prime sign ups over a three-hour period accompanied Amazon’s first Thursday Night Football airing, further silver lining for the company’s massive investment despite the lagging viewership. Both Amazon and ESPN do not enjoy flex scheduling privileges that its primetime counterpart NBC enjoys, which enables networks to switch out late-season scheduled broadcasts for higher-profile matchups, that its primetime counterpart NBC enjoys, though ESPN will have the right to flex beginning in the 2023 season. The NFL is in the second year of its 11-year, $110 billion television rights deal with Amazon, CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC and inked a seven-year deal with Google for the league’s Sunday Ticket package believed to be worth about $2.5 billion annually in December.
82 of 100. That’s how many of the 100 most-viewed television broadcasts in the U.S. last year were NFL broadcasts, according to a Sportico analysis of Nielsen data. Some 94 of the 100 top-watched programs were sporting events, cementing the preeminence of live sports for networks and streamers.