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2021 NFL Season Averaged 17.1M Viewers; Here Are This Season’s NFL Media Rankings

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For the first time in history, each NFL team played 17 regular season games, and it still seems like fans couldn’t get enough of the action.

The 2021 NFL regular season averaged 17.1 million viewers on TV and digital platforms — the highest regular-season average since 2015 and a 10% increase from the 2020 season, per NFL Communications.

NFL games ranked as 48 of the Top 50 shows — and 91 of the Top 100 — on TV during the 2021 regular season, accounting for a total of 370 billion minutes of football consumed throughout the season. That’s up 18% from the 2020 regular season.

“Featuring incredible play on the field and close contests, the 2021 regular season proved to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating of all-time,” NFL Media’s EVP and Chief Operating Officer Hans Schroeder said. “This year’s schedule, highlighted by an enhanced regular season featuring 17 games, gave our broadcast partners the ability to provide fans with more football and incredible matchups than ever. We look forward to a strong finish with the upcoming postseason and Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.”

Here are the Top 10 most-watched NFL games during the 2021 regular season:

  • Las Vegas Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys — Week 12, CBS — 40.8 million
  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs — Week 11, FOX — 28.7 million
  • Cleveland Browns vs. Green Bay Packers — Week 16, FOX + NFLN — 28.6 million
  • Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions — Week 12, FOX — 28.2 million
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots — Week 4, NBC — 27.2 million
  • Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys — Week 17, FOX — 26.8 million
  • Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers — Week 12, FOX — 25.2 million
  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kickoff, NBC — 25.2 million
  • Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs — Week 9, FOX — 25.0 million
  • Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers — Week 2, CBS — 25.0 million
Courtesy of NFL Communications.

In the 2021 regular season, there were 34 games decided by a game-winning score on the final play — the most ever in a single season — while 49 games were decided by a game-winning score in the final minute of regulation or overtime, which is tied for most in a single season, per NFL Communications.

Of the 272 total games played in the regular season this year, 175 games – or 64% of all games – were within one score in the fourth quarter. This is tied for the fourth-most all-time.

In November, OutKick’s Anthony Farris reported that NFL ratings were up in more than half of local markets with the Los Angeles Chargers leading the way.

Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner.


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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter at @Megnturner_ and Instagram at @Megnturner.

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