The second round of the NFL playoffs is in the books, so it’s a good time to look at the TV viewership compared to last season. Here are the numbers (this year’s are via Showbuzz Daily, last year’s are via Sports Media Watch):
You always want to see a positive percent change rather than a negative one, but these aren’t devastating numbers for the NFL. To put the numbers into perspective, the least watched game of this weekend, Ravens-Bills with 26.24 million viewers, had more viewers than every non-NFL sporting event of 2020 (the LSU-Clemson national title game had 25.6 million viewers).
The NFL playoffs, while down, are holding up better year-over-year than other sporting events. The NBA Finals were down 51 percent, World Series ratings were down 36 percent, and the college football national title game was down 27 percent.
News continues to eat at sports viewership on the margins. For example, this past Saturday at 5:00 pm on CNN, Situation Room averaged 2.2 million viewers. Last year, on the corresponding Saturday — January 18th — at 5:00 pm, CNN Newsroom averaged 683,000 viewers. This year, nine MSNBC shows made the Showbuzz Daily top 150 cable programs on Saturday; last year, it was four.
Hopefully we can at least reach a point in the world where the news calms down, even if those viewers don’t return to sports.