Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass for a first down as New York Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes (30) defends during the second half of the game between the Cowboys and the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Giants-Cowboys most watched regular-season game in NFL history

The NFL said Friday that the Thanksgiving Day game between the host Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set a regular-season viewership record.

The FOX broadcast averaged 42 million viewers, according to the league.

Dallas has played on Thanksgiving for 45 straight seasons and 55 times overall. This year was the first time since 1992 that it played its division rival from New York, the largest media market in the country, on the holiday. Both teams entered the game 7-3, adding to the interest.

The Cowboys beat the Giants 28-20.

The league said it also set a record for its Thanksgiving Day “total unduplicated audience” of 138 million.

The Buffalo Bills, one of the AFC’s best teams, beat the host Detroit Lions 28-25 on a late field goal in the early game. The host Minnesota Vikings topped the New England Patriots 33-26 in the nightcap.

The average viewership across the tripleheader was 33.5 million viewers per game.

The news comes as the NFL and Amazon plan to begin staging a single Black Friday game beginning in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Quarterback C.J. Stroud is preparing for a potentially historic redshirt sophomore season at Ohio State.

REDO Ohio State QB CJ Stroud

Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud: Share TV windfall with players

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud would gladly celebrate the billions fetched by the Big Ten conference in a landmark broadcast rights agreement.

Stroud is among student-athlete leaders who have discussed sharing in profits for the conference with commissioner Kevin Warren, though nothing is imminent in terms of disbursements to athletes as part of the deal with FOX, CBS and NBC that begins in July 2023.

The 20-year-old was a Heisman finalist in 2021 with 44 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has more than $2.5 million in Name, Image and Likeness agreements with Value City Furniture, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Express and a car dealership.

Warren said in July at Big Ten Media Days that dialogue is taking place among students and conference administrators.

“I want to be a great listener to figure out what is important to them. It’s so easy to talk about money and share money, but what does that really mean?” Warren said. “I want to make sure that I listen and learn to be able to have big ears and a small mouth to truly understand what’s important to them.”

Stroud told USA Today the time to share is now.

The Big Ten announced their new rights agreement one week after ESPN announced it was out of the talks. In addition to three high-profile networks, more streaming options — such as NBC’s Peacock — will be employed to maximize carriage and all-important advertising opportunities.

“I definitely think it should be shared,” Stroud said. “But if not, at the end of the day, we have the NIL space. We can do it that way. The new college world is turning around, and I’m here for it.”

The Big Ten also plans to add at least two schools, UCLA and USC, in 2024 and shares profits equally among member institutions. Warren said in July he didn’t know if future profits would add a layer to include players or if members would be responsible for determining how and when to share the wealth.

–Field Level Media

Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the eleventh overall pick to the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft: First round is least-watched since 2017

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night brought in the fewest TV viewers since 2017, according to Sports Business Journal.

ABC, ESPN and NFL Network combined to draw 10.03 million viewers, roughly 2.5 million fewer than last year’s first round and the lowest mark since the network simulcast window was introduced in 2018.

The viewership number still cleared eight digits. The last time it was lower, a combined 9.23 million viewers tuned in for the 2017 first round on ESPN and NFL Network.

The first round, in particular the top 10, was dominated by defensive players and offensive linemen with few big names among the so-called skill players. The only quarterback drafted in the first round, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, went No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The viewership number has tumbled since the record of 15.27 million was set in 2020, though that was boosted by more people staying indoors during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The draft continues Friday with the second and third round before concluding Saturday afternoon with rounds 4-7.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) smiles while being interviewed by CBS personality Jim Nantz after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. The Cincinnati Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

NFL championship games attracted huge TV audiences

The Los Angeles Rams’ dramatic win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday was one of the most-watched television shows of the century.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game was a ratings winner, too.

The NFC Championship Game drew 50.2 million viewers, making it one of just 11 non-Super Bowls to hit the 50 million mark since the last episode of “Seinfeld” attracted 76.3 million in 1998. Of those 11, only the final episode of “Friends” in 2004 (52.5 million) wasn’t an NFL conference championship game.

The Bengals-Chiefs game had 47.9 million viewers, up from 41.85 million for the previous season’s AFC Championship Game. The prior NFC title game had 44.8 million viewers.

Overall, last week’s two games saw a 10 percent increase in viewership from the same weekend last year and a 16 percent jump from the conference championship games in January 2020.

The NFC Championship Game drew its highest rating in eight years, while the AFC Championship Game posted its best rating in four years.

Last year’s Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chiefs drew an average of 91.6 million viewers, the lowest figure for a Super Bowl since 2006. The record was set by Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, when the New England Patriots’ win over the Seattle Seahawks attracted 114.4 million viewers.

–Field Level Media

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) celebrates after a game-winning field goal to defeat the Green Bay Packers 13-10 during their NFL divisional round football playoff game Saturday January 22, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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NFL divisional playoffs draw record TV ratings

The NFL’s divisional playoffs delivered great drama and record TV ratings last weekend.

The divisional-round games averaged 38.2 million viewers — the highest average for the round on record — the league announced on Tuesday. That viewership marked a 21 percent increase from last season.

Saturday night’s San Francisco-Green Bay Packers NFC game on Fox, a 13-10 49ers win decided by Robbie Gould’s 45-yard field goal on the game’s final play, drew 36.9 million viewers. The game was the most-watched TV show on a Saturday night in 28 years, dating to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ dramatic 42-36 overtime AFC win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night on CBS drew an average 42.7 million viewers. It was the most-watched divisional playoff game in five years, with viewership peaking at 51.7 million viewers at the thrilling finish.

The Los Angeles Rams’ 30-27 NFC victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday on NBC drew 38.1 million viewers. It was the network’s most-watched game since in 2006, excluding Super Bowls.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 AFC win over the Tennessee Titans, decided by Evan McPherson’s 52-yard field goal as time expired, Saturday on CBS averaged 30.8 million viewers.

–Field Level Media

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) kisses the trophy Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, after defeating Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

CFP title-game ratings lag again despite slight uptick

Georgia staged a fourth-quarter rally to defeat Alabama in the College Football Playoff final on Monday night, but television viewers weren’t completely enthralled.

While TV ratings for the contest were up 19 percent from the CFP title game the prior year, the contest was still the second-least-watched college football championship game this century.

A total of 22.6 million viewers across numerous ESPN-branded networks watched Georgia top Alabama 33-18 in Indianapolis. Last year, when Alabama routed Ohio State 52-24 for the title, 18.7 million tuned in.

Since the Bowl Championship Series began pitting the nation’s top two teams in a title game in 1998-99, and then the current four-team CFP system began in 2014-15, last year’s game and this year’s game sit at the bottom of the ratings list.

The record rating during the CFP era was 34.6 million when Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 to cap the 2014-15 season.

When Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime to determine the 2017-18 championship, 28.4 million people watched.

According to ESPN, the Monday game was the highest-rated event on cable television since LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson in the 2019-20 CFP title game. The network also stated that the game’s 29 percent “share” (percentage of viewers watching television at the time who were watching that program) was a record for the BCS era.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) reacts after his touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL’s Bucs-Eagles matchup tops NLDS Game 5 in TV ratings

On Friday, the NFL received good news in the form of its Thursday Night Football regular-season matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles averaging 14.42 million viewers across all platforms, which easily outpaced Major League Baseball’s postseason game in a head-to-head comparison.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ nail-biting 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 drew 6.5 million viewers for TBS (an increase over Game 4’s 5.15 million watchers), and received the largest audience for an National League Division Series game since Game 5 between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals in 2017 (7.02 million).

Additionally for the NFL, Tampa Bay-Philadelphia reached the NFL’s second-largest digital audience ever, at 1.5 million.

Last season’s San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals matchup on Dec. 26 remains the high for digital audience at 4.8 million average viewers, though that mark was achieved without a traditional national broadcast — the game was only aired locally and digitally.

The 14.42 million total for Bucs-Eagles was up 14 percent from last season’s Week 6 game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs (12.7 million).

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Foxboro, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs off the field after the win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady-Patriots matchup draws big TV ratings

Tom Brady’s television appeal knows few limits.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback returned to face his longtime team, the New England Patriots, on “Sunday Night Football,” the NBC telecast drew huge ratings.

The broadcast from Foxborough, Mass., posted a 34 share nationally, meaning 34 percent of all households watching TV at the time were tuned in to NBC. That’s the highest figure in the 16-year existence of “Sunday Night Football.”

Tampa Bay’s 19-17 win logged a 14.6 national rating, which means 14.6 percent of all TV households were watching.

Factoring in people watching the game on NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital platforms, the contest attracted around 28.5 million viewers, the second-highest figure ever for “Sunday Night Football.” The record was 30.3 million viewers for a regular-season-ending, Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins game on Dec. 30, 2012, that determined the NFC East champion.

The game drew enormous viewing numbers in New England and Florida. Providence posted the highest figures with a 45.1 rating and a 73 share. Boston (43.8/70) was second, followed by Tampa (27.1/51), Hartford (23.9/44), Cincinnati (21.2/40) and Jacksonville (20.9/39).

The online stream drew approximately 1.3 million viewers, the largest ever for an NBC broadcast of an NFL game.

Each of the first four “Sunday Night Football” telecasts this season has attracted at least 20 million viewers, the first time that has happened in six years.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after a Buccaneers touchdown  against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs-Cowboys opener is TV’s most-watched show since Super Bowl

The NFL returned to television Thursday night, and the public tuned in.

The season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys attracted an audience that was the biggest for any TV show since the Super Bowl in February, NBC announced Friday.

Around 24.4 million viewers watched the Thursday game on NBC, with a peak of 25.4 million viewers between 9:45-10 p.m. ET.

The game also was available on Peacock, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital platforms. When counting those sources, the Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average was around 26 million, per NBC.

The TAD for the Buccaneers’ 31-29 win was up 20 percent from last year’s NFL kickoff game, a 34-20 Kansas City Chiefs win over the Houston Texans. It also was the highest for an NFL Thursday opener since 27.4 million watched the New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 in 2015.

The 2015 game and Thursday’s game had a major similarity: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, two of the NFL’s most marketable players, connecting for multiple touchdown passes — six years ago for New England, this year for Tampa Bay.

The Average Minute Audience for Peacock and digital platforms of 1.6 million broke NBC’s record for an NFL game, not including Super Bowls, and increased 64 percent from last year.

The Buccaneers-Cowboys contest garnered a 13.4 rating (percent of all TV households watching) and a 32 share (percent of households watching TV at the time that tuned in), with those figures rising 20 percent from last year.

The Dallas market had the highest viewership Thursday with a 29.1 rating and 56 share. San Antonio (25.5/45) was next, followed by Tampa (24.6/50), Providence (23.1/44), Austin (22.9/46), Boston (21.4/43), Cleveland (20.3/40), Jacksonville (20.1/38), Norfolk (19.9/39) and Milwaukee (17.7/37).

–Field Level Media

Mar 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey speaks on the cancelation of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

SEC, ESPN reach 10-year deal for football, basketball rights

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN agreed on a 10-year deal beginning in 2024 that will make the network the exclusive rights holder of the league’s football and men’s basketball games, the two sides announced Thursday.

Though terms were not disclosed, ESPN’s annual fee is expected to be in the low $300 million range, according to multiple media reports. The SEC currently received $55 million from CBS as part of a deal that was made in 1996. The SEC-CBS contract runs through the 2023 season.

ESPN’s family of networks, including ABC, will gain up to 15 premier football games, highlighted by the SEC title game and big rivalries such as Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Auburn and LSU-Arkansas.

“This new agreement was born from a strong foundation which began almost 25 years ago and now reflects a shared vision of the future with the SEC, commissioner (Greg) Sankey and their member institutions,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and sports content, said in a statement. “With all the conference’s games under the ESPN umbrella and adding ABC and ESPN+ to our distribution channels, ESPN will have complete scheduling flexibility, resulting in maximum exposure and adding significant benefits for SEC schools and fans.”

ABC will broadcast an SEC game every Saturday, including a regular late-afternoon kickoff, and will have the option to feature an SEC game on Saturday nights for the first time.

ABC also will air the SEC title game in the late afternoon, and ABC or ESPN will air a late-afternoon SEC game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement, “This is a significant day for the Southeastern Conference and for the future of our member institutions. Our agreement with ESPN will greatly enhance our ability to support our student-athletes in the years ahead and to further enrich the game-day experience for SEC fans around the world.

“One of our primary goals was to improve the television-scheduling process in ways that will benefit our students, coaches, alumni and fans. By working in collaboration with ESPN, we were able to secure an agreement that includes more lead time for many game-time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”

The deal also allows the SEC to announce kickoff times much earlier, even during the summer.

ESPN+ is guaranteed to stream one nonconference football game and two nonconference men’s basketball games per SEC school each season.

–Field Level Media