NFL Ratings Are Down But Still Rate High With Men—and Women
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/5/2012 2:17:37 PM
But the commissioner is hardly ready to call an audible. Despite the declines, NFL telecasts still top all other programming on the broadcast networks in terms of total viewers and in most demo categories.
Speaking of which, it's not just the Super Bowl that brings sizable amounts of women to football telecasts. While a larger of percentage of women do watch the big game, weekly primetime NFL telecasts on NBC are drawing significant numbers of women as well. And that takes quite a bit of the sting out of any losses.
Those losses are still worth noting. Looking at the three networks' NFL ratings as compiled by media agency Carat's research department, NBC's Sunday Night Football ratings are down 2% in households to a 12.5 from a 12.8, down 6% in the 18-49 demo to an 8.1 from an 8.6 and down 4% among men 18-49 to an 11.1 from an 11.6. The NBC ratings include a Thanksgiving night game the network telecast for the first time this season.
Ratings for Fox's Sunday afternoon games are down 4% in households to an 11.6 from a 12.1, down 7% in adults 18-49 to a 7.0 from a 7.5, and down 6% in men 18-49 to a 9.6 from a 10.2.
Ratings for CBS' Sunday afternoon games are down 2% in households from 10.9 to 10.7, down 5% among adults 18-49 from a 6.6 to a 6.3 and down 4% among men 18-49 from 8.9 to an 8.5.
Adding this past Sunday night game's ratings to NBC, SNF is averaging 19.8 million viewers, a 7.6 18-49 rating, a 6.6 18-34 rating and an 8.5 25-54 rating, placing it first among all primetime programming in each of those categories. (The Fox and CBS NFL ratings from this past Sunday will not be available until later this week.)
NBC's SNF is averaging a 5.0 rating among women 18-49, tying it with ABC's Grey's Anatomy for the fourth most-watched program of the week in broadcast primetime among that female demo group. Only Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, both with a 5.7, and The Voice with a 5.6, are rated ahead of it in that female demo.
Among women 25-54, SNF ranks fifth with a 5.6 demo rating, behind Big Bang (7.1), Modern Family (6.7), The Voice (6.4) and Grey's Anatomy (6.0).
And SNF also does well when moving into the women 35-54 demo. Only Big Bang, Modern Family, The Voice, NCIS, Two and a Half Men, Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds have a higher rating than the 5.8 that SNF is averaging in that demo.
While Fox does not televise NFL games in primetime, it does air the Sunday night NFL wrap-up show The OT that sometimes runs into the first hour of primetime, so Nielsen measures it. The OT, which is averaging 11.8 million viewers this season and a 4.6 18-49 demo rating also reaches lots of women, although not as many as SNF. Still, The OT is averaging a 2.9 rating among women 18-49 and a 3.4 among both women 25-54 and 35-54.
So marketers who are being guaranteed ratings based on an overall age demo or a male demo can get a significant number of female eyeballs as a bonus. That could be why more and more female-targeted brands are beginning to move into sports telecasts.
With just four weeks left in the season, NBC could very well match its viewer and ratings totals from last season -- depending on the matchups. For the 2011 season, SNF averaged 20.6 million viewers and an 8.0 18-49 rating, so NBC's current 19.8 million and 7.6 demo rating is not far off.
The other positive of football telecasts for advertisers of course is that the games are mostly watched live with little delayed viewing, so the likelihood of commercials being watched is much higher -- always a plus for marketers.
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