NFL produces 64 of top 100 most-watched TV shows in 2018

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Consumers have more and more viewing options that don’t entail traditional TV, and one product gets them to choose traditional TV unlike any other. The NFL.

Ryan Glasspiegel of TheBigLead.com points out that 64 of the 100 most-watched TV shows in 2018 were NFL games. Another 25 of the top 100 most-watched TV shows were live sports.

That’s positive news for the NFL at a time when it hopes to complete a new labor deal with its players union and then parlay that into new TV deals.

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“The value of live content, and specifically the NFL, to uniquely aggregate audiences is becoming more and more special,” NFL Media COO Hans Schroeder told Glasspiegel. “We always in the NFL over long periods of time have been focused on getting the widest reach and distribution of our content. We’re the one league that requires all our games to be over the air in some way, shape, or form. But generally the vast, vast majority of our games are very widely distributed and that’s something that we think has really driven our success over time.”

That’s an important observation, given widespread speculation that the NFL will sell its TV rights to billion-dollar streaming businesses like Amazon or YouTube. The NFL wants and needs to have its games broadcast by three-letter, over-the-air networks in order to maximize audiences.

With the money the NFL makes from traditional broadcast networks and the exposure that comes from a three-hour infomercial pumped out to millions who consume the old-school networks in various ways, it’s critical for the NFL to maintain a presence of the most widely-distributed platforms. Despite all the changes in audience composition and behavior, networks like CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC can give the NFL something it can’t get anywhere else: Maximum eyeballs tuned in to its product at the same time.

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