NFL: Television ratings for 2018 games up 5 percent while streaming viewership soars

Yahoo Sports

It’s the games, people. It has always been the games.

The NFL had an incredible regular season. Scoring and passing stats went up. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the new face of the league, and other great young quarterbacks emerged too. It seemed like every week we were getting another classic game, and it peaked when the Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams played perhaps the best regular-season game in NFL history on “Monday Night Football.”

Remember when the NFL “was dying” last year because of a dip in ratings? Hopefully you saw through that ridiculous agenda because it was never rooted in any truth.

The NFL had exciting games with great matchups throughout the season, and ratings improved. Go figure.

The play of MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes (15) was one of the highlights of the NFL season. (AP)
The play of MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes (15) was one of the highlights of the NFL season. (AP)

NFL TV ratings up significantly

NFL Media released some stats from the 2018 season’s television ratings, and they were up in a lot of ways. The most digestible number from their announcement was that ratings overall were up 5 percent from last season (it’s also notable that digital streaming was up a staggering 86 percent).

The biggest reason for the ratings decrease last season is that ratings for everything are down. People consume media in a much different way than they did a decade or more ago. That the NFL could have a 5 percent increase in television ratings while also nearly doubling its streaming viewership is amazing.

Many factors drove high ratings

While so much was made early in the season about quarterback protection rules, for the most part the league had its starting quarterbacks stay healthier this season. That meant more Aaron Rodgers in December, and less Brett Hundley like last season.

Quarterback play is one of many reasons for the ratings rebound, and the first reason is that the breathless 2017 news about ratings was an overreaction. The NFL is still the most popular sport in the United States by a mile, and even when ratings were “down,” the league was still drawing viewership numbers that any other sports league would love. That the NFL accounted for 46 of the 50 most watched shows of the season is telling. There was never a crisis.

Still, the NFL didn’t like seeing its viewership numbers slip in 2017. It should be happy going into this offseason.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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