According to Josh Carpenter of Sports Business Daily, the NFL’s TV ratings decline continued into the start of the playoffs. Each game this past weekend experienced a double digit drop as compared to last season’s wild card round.
The Titans Chiefs matchup on ESPN/ABC drew a 14.7, down 11% from the 16.6 garnered by Texan’s Raiders. NBC’s Falcons Rams broadcast received a 14.9, falling short by 10% when compared to the 16.5 in last year’s Lions-Seahawks game. The rating for Jaguars-Bills on CBS was a 17.2, a 10% dip from Steelers-Dolphins in 2017. The most entertaining game of the weekend, Saints-Panthers on Fox drew a 20.4 rating, down 15% from Packers-Giants which did a 24.
The NFL has had to answer ratings questions for two years now. On Sunday, Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with reporters and did not express much concern.
“We always want ratings to go up, but we’re 37 of the top 50 shows, which is higher than ever,” said prior to the Jaguars-Bills playoff game. “We’re likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox — excuse me on all of television, the Fox Sunday afternoon game. Sunday night, prime time is for the seventh year in a row the No. 1 show. Thursday Night Football is No. 2. I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear.”
Goodell also discussed the league’s streaming partnerships. “We always want to figure out how to expand our audiences, and that’s why we’re doing things with Verizon, we’re doing things … with Amazon,” he said. “Those types of things are how we’re reaching more consumers and that’s a transition and that’s something that we’re putting a lot of focus on.”
Cord cutting is certainly a cause of the league’s ratings decline and offering accessible streaming options will help reach a larger target audience. Television ratings are down as a whole, but other sports aren’t seeing the same decline.
According to ESPN, while the NFL experienced a double digit drop during their first week of playoff ratings, the college football bowl games had a double digit increase. ESPN does use total audience measurement to determine their ratings, which means streaming numbers are included.
Even with the decline, the NFL still receives ratings other sports and TV programs would love to achieve, but the consistent decline is a trend the league would prefer to reverse. Poor matchups for Wild Card Weekend as well as the upcoming divisional round haven’t helped, but Championship Weekend and the Super Bowl should still be an important measuring stick.