The NFL Continued Its Unfettered Dominance Over Whole TV Landscape in 2020

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If you work in sports media, you may be tired of getting hammered over the head with the data, but I’m not sure that the general public has a concept of just how dramatically the NFL dominates, not just the sports TV landscape, but all of television.

As Anthony Crupi covers in Sportico, here’s where things stood in the top 100 most watched TV programs of 2020 as of this morning:

  • NFL had 69 of the top 100
  • NFL had 32 of the top 50
  • MLB and NBA had zero of the top 100
  • College football had three of the top 100: the Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Wisconsin), Citrus Bowl (Michigan vs. Alabama), and the LSU-Clemson national title game. Note that the college football playoff semifinals took place in 2019, or they would have also been included in the top 100, based on their viewership levels.

As FOX executive Michael Mulvihill pointed out in reaction to the story, the Christmas NFL game between the Saints and Vikings, which got over 20 million viewers, and this past week’s Sunday Night Football will also likely make the top 100 list when the full numbers are in. So the NFL has had at least 70 of the 100 most-watched TV programs of the year. It also means that NCIS will likely exit the list, so there will be no scripted entertainment programs in the top 100. Virtually all relevant scripted entertainment has migrated from TV to streaming platforms now.

Here were the top 10 most watched TV shows of 2020:

1) Super Bowl LIV (49ers-Chiefs), FOX, 99.9 million viewers
2) Presidential debate, several networks, 73.1 million viewers
3) Presidential debate II, several networks, 63.0 million viewers
4) VP debate, several networks, 57.9 million viewers
5) NFC title game (Packers-49ers), FOX, 57.9 million viewers
6) AFC title game (Titans-Chiefs), CBS, 41.1 million viewers
7) State of the Union, several networks, 37.2 million viewers
8) NFC divisional playoffs (Seahawks-Packers), FOX, 37.2 million viewers
9) AFC divisional playoffs (Texans-Chiefs), CBS, 35.4 million viewers
10) NFC Wild Card Playoffs (Seahawks-Eagles), NBC, 35.1 million viewers

You can look at programs 1-50 here, and 51-100 here.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

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