NFL Announces America's Most-Watched Fall TV Programs Were League Games

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2014

Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) points at the Oakland Raiders defense during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Oakland 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is unquestionably America's favorite sports league, and the 2013 television numbers back that.

According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk via a league press release, 34 of the 35 most-watched fall television shows were NFL games.

Per the report, the Thanksgiving game between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders topped the list with 31.7 million viewers. The only show to crack the top 35 that wasn't an NFL game was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC.   

Furthermore, NFL games drew 17.6 million viewers on average, and 70 percent of the country's potential viewers watched at least one NFL game over the course of the 2013 season.

Those numbers are obviously huge, and they don't show any signs of dropping in the near future, according to CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus in a recent interview on Boomer & Carton:

More people are watching the NFL on television than anything else in the universe, nothing else comes close. Normally the top 20 shows of the year are NFL football games. Usually No. 7 or No. 8 might be the Oscars, and other than that every top program in prime time and every top program during the day is an NFL football game. It's unlike anything else on television. Every year we think we've peaked. We had Tim Tebow a couple years ago and we think, 'Well, my God, that’s going to be a comedown the following year.' Then some other storyline develops. It's unlike anything on television.

There are likely several scientific reasons behind the steady ascension of the NFL, but Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald laid it out quite simply:

That opinion is obviously far from the consensus, but you would be hard-pressed to find a football fan who disagrees. From drama to incredible feats of athleticism to overall entertainment value, the NFL truly has it all.

The NFL has even succeeded in breaking down barriers and hitting all demographics as it was huge among female viewers in 2013, according to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily:

Due to the league's wide-ranging appeal, its ceiling is unfathomably high. The games are as good as they ever have been due to the parity that currently exists in the NFL, and that should ensure a consistent and continued growth for years to come.   


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