The NFL enjoyed strong television ratings once again in the 2020 regular season, but the numbers are down considerably from a year ago.
According to Nielsen (h/t Brad Adgate of Forbes), the average audience for 2020 NFL regular season games was 15.4 million. This is down from the average of 16.5 million for the 2019 season, and slightly down from the 15.8 million average for 2018.
Ratings have been up and down for the NFL throughout the years. Dating back to the 2014 regular season season (via Adgate), 2015 marked the best year for ratings with an average of 18.7 million viewers.
The NFL hasn’t come close to reaching that mark ever since. The next highest totals would be the 16.5 million viewers they averaged in both 2016 and 2019.
Per Adgate, 18 telecasts delivered an audience of more than 20 million viewers. Topping all regular season games was the Thanksgiving showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team which averaged 30.3 million viewers.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to adjust the schedule throughout the year. This season saw at least one game played on every day of the week.
The Tennessee Titans experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that forced the league to reschedule their Week 5 home game against the Buffalo Buffalo Bills to Tues, Oct. 13. The Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens’ Week 13 game was rescheduled from Thurs, Dec. 3 to the following Tuesday.
Baltimore also had to play a Wednesday night game on Dec. 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But the NFL managed to complete the regular season as planned on Jan. 3, and the playoffs are on track to finish by Feb. 7 – the date of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Though the ratings declined from the regular season, the viewership remains strong and well for the league. The NFL stands to earn billions more in revenue when the major networks agree to new broadcasting deals.
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