Week 2 NFL Ratings: CBS Down Huge, NBC/NFLN Slight Gain, Fox Up a Bit, ESPN Up With ABC Simulcast

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Here are the TV viewership numbers for Week 2 in the NFL and it’s a mix as far as trends are concerned. Because FOX had the doubleheader last year and CBS had it this year, you can look at it two ways.

The top table is if you compare Fox to Fox and CBS to CBS in the early window. The bottom is if you compare FOX 2020 singleheader to CBS 2019 singleheader window and CBS 2020 early doubleheader window to FOX’s doubleheader window:

Numbers were via Showbuzz Daily for non-MNF, and via John Ourand for Monday Night Football; the breakdown was 7.984 million viewers on ABC, 7.461 million on ESPN, and 111,000 on ESPN2.

Either way you slice it, things were good for Fox and bad for CBS in the early Sunday afternoon window this week — it’s a matter of how good and how bad. CBS’s doubleheader numbers were likely affected by the US Open, which concluded during the late afternoon window and averaged 3.2 million viewers.

Sunday Night Football on NBC, Patriots-Seahawks, was about flat compared to Falcons-Eagles in Week 2 last year.

Monday Night Football was up versus last year, with the caveat that this year’s game was simulcast on ABC and ESPN2 to commemorate Monday Night Football’s 50th anniversary.

If you look at this chart from Sports Media Watch, which also includes household ratings, you can see that the NFL likely continues to benefit from out-of-home viewership.

Even with Monday Night Football up in at least partial attribution to the simulcast, cable news continues to be a factor that ultimately affects primetime football. Here is how hosts on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN did this year compared to last on Monday night:

Corrections: This story originally indicated that Monday Night Football on ESPN was significantly down, but the game’s simulcast on ABC pushed it up versus last year. It has been updated to accurately reflect those numbers. 

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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  1. Watched one half at a bar mostly bc I don’t want my local sports bars to endure more after the lockdown. But after that my interest is waning, partly bc my team plays like garbage. The lockdown has taught me that there are other fun things to do now

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