While NFL viewership is down 10 percent compared to 2019, television executives feel good about the league's performance.
“This is not really a year for anybody to get too hung up on ratings,” said Burke Magnus, executive vice president of programming and scheduling at ESPN, which was the only TV network to post an increase for its NFL games. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is up 1% through Week 4.
“NFL content is still incredibly powerful,” Magnus continued. “These are massive audiences. We take a lot of solace in the fact that NFL games are the most powerful content on television and people continue to show up in huge numbers. We’re not going to get all twisted up about ratings.”
After a glut of competition in September and October from the NBA, NHL, MLB and the election, the final two months of the season will give the NFL possibly an unprecedented position without real competition.
“With every passing week, we’re getting closer to a normal competitive environment for the NFL,” said Mike Mulvihill, executive vice president and head of strategy and analytics at Fox Sports.
Total live viewing through Week 4 was up seven percent over a year ago since July 23.
NFL viewership has declined in each of the past six presidential elections. “In the most recent 2016 presidential election, NFL regular season viewership was down 14% for the nine weeks prior to the election vs flat for the eight weeks after the election.”