After the first few weeks of this NFL season, as television ratings numbers showed a decline in viewership, particularly for primetime games, there were a lot of theories as to why. The league believed it was primarily related to folks’ insatiable appetite for information about the 2016 Presidential election and people watching channels like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
And that has proven to be a sound theory, by and large: the NFL has been a bump in ratings over the last couple of weeks.
But it turns out the secret to their struggles, such as they were (even low NFL ratings are fantastic ratings for other professional sports), could have been remedied even before the election.
Just air the Dallas Cowboys in the national window as much as possible.
Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch posted this to Twitter on Friday. Notice something?
Most watched NFL games in 2016:
1. DAL-WASH: 35.1M viewers
2. DAL-PIT: 28.9M
3. DAL-GB: 28.0M
4. DET-MIN: 27.6M
5. DAL-NYG: 27.5M
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) November 25, 2016
Four of the five most-watched games this season involve the Cowboys. And only two of them were when Dallas faced one of their NFC East rivals, when there’s a long-standing rivalry.
The 35.1 million viewers who watched Dallas host Washington on Thursday made it the most-watched regular-season NFL game on Fox history. And according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, it’s the most-watched non-playoff game since Thanksgiving 1995, a game that saw the Kansas City Chiefs travel to – where else? – Dallas.