NFL games made up almost 75 percent of the most-watched shows on TV in 2017
TV ratings may be sinking, but the NFL's grip on American viewing habits remains strong
It's no secret that the NFL has experienced a decline in TV ratings over recent seasons.
The reasons behind the slide are varied and debated, with some touting politics and ongoing player protests as an influence and others pointing to the game's trademark physicality. But football isn't the only thing losing ground on the small screen. According to a CNN report from October, all of network television is fighting decreased viewership,
As AdAge and Forbes' Mike Ozanian detailed in rundowns of Nielsen's live-plus-same-day data, 37 of the top 50 broadcasts in 2017 (or roughly 74 percent) were NFL games. Three of the league's playoff matchups, including an NFC divisional round game, the AFC Championship Game and February's Super Bowl LI, topped the list of most-watched shows, beating even the 89th Academy Awards and the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The 74-percent mark is an increase from 2016, Nielsen's numbers indicated, as the NFL logged only 28 of the top 50 programs that year. It should also be noted that at least eight games from the 2017 regular season cracked the list of most-watched shows, some of them besting the Golden Globe Awards, Games 3 and 5 of the NBA Finals and the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
As AdAge's Anthony Crupi explained, the NFL remains an undoubted TV favorite thanks to its 2017 performance:
While seemingly everyone from the Papa John's guy to the President of the United States has seen fit to weigh in on the NFL's season-long TV ratings slide, pro football's Kung Fu Grip on American viewing habits remains indisputable. Despite losing 9 percent of its year-ago audience and coming under attack from both sides of the political spectrum, the NFL in 2017 continued to cast a long shadow over the media landscape.
All told, the NFL put its stamp on 13 of this year's top 20 broadcasts, and while most of those slots were commandeered by postseason games, two of the biggest draws were regular-season matchups [that were not] ... aired in prime-time.
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