NFL Ratings Plateau, Adding to Broadcasters' Woes

Broadcast TV's bellwether is treading water.

The TV industry has been going through a rough patch of late. Overall subscriber numbers are in a slow decline, and a couple weeks ago media company stocks tumbled thanks to falling TV earnings.

Now Re/code reports that TV ratings for the NFL, usually thought of as the bellwether for broadcast TV, have remained flat for the last few years. NFL viewership has held at around 200 million viewers since 2010.

Last year, the number of unique NFL viewers actually declined slightly, from 205 to 202 million. Thursday Night Football saw a ratings increase, but only because eight games were moved from the NFL Network to CBS. This move gave the aggregate regular season ratings a boost, despite the overall decline.


As Re/code's Peter Kafka notes, flat ratings aren't necessarily a bad thing. But given the cord-cutting trend, the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Sling TV, and Apple's eventual TV service, the NFL might need to look elsewhere for growth.

It's getting a little easier to watch football as a cord-cutter thanks to the new NFL GamePass and DirecTV's expanded NFLSundayTicket.tv service. However, if the NFL wants to truly goose ratings (or at least profits), a simple streaming service that offers all regular season games live might be a good place to start.

Related Video

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

41eenkb2gyl. sl160

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player

Buy now for $87.99 at Amazon

Be in the know! Get Reviewed.com news and reviews straight to your inbox.

Thanks for signing up!