The list of most watched shows in America is an exclusive list. Gunsmoke, All in the Family, Dallas, The Cosby Show, and American Idol are just a few of the programs that can make that claim. For the first time, a sports series is America’s #1 rated program. Yesterday, the NFL announced that NBC’s Sunday Night Football averaged the most prime-time viewers during the 2011-2012 season. SNF’s victory ends a record eight year run by American Idol at the top of the television world. Here’s the news from NFL.com…
The NFL said Thursday that “Sunday Night Football” averaged the most prime-time viewers during the official 2011-12 television season, which ended Wednesday night. The games on NBC averaged 20.9 million viewers, beating out “American Idol,” the FOX juggernaut that slipped a bit in its 412th 10th season.
As if you needed any more signs of the NFL’s dominance and popularity in this country, you now have it. The NFL didn’t just beat American Idol, but shows like NCIS, Dancing With The Stars, and The Voice to top the list. The Super Bowl has routinely set a new viewership record each of the last three years for a single event, but being the top rated show over an entire season is another animal. This is an incredible accomplishment for the NFL and NBC to add to their resume. In nearly every metric, the NFL is in another universe in terms of popularity compared to all other sports. Now, that dominance and popularity is crossing over into the mainstream world.
Over the past few seasons, Sunday Night Football has become the gold standard in sports broadcasts. The commentary team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth is one of the best in sports. The graphics and production values are top notch. The Football Night in America pregame show with Dan Patrick, Rodney Harrison, and Tony Dungy has found its groove after running through different combinations. And, SNF always televises the best games throughout the year thanks to flex scheduling. It’s the total package and everything you could ask for in a sports series.
Looking back, this news is a testament to the NFL’s decision to buck tradition and move their nationally televised primetime game from Monday night on ABC to Sunday night on NBC. At the time, Monday Night Football on ABC was a franchise on the decline. Ratings were declining and ABC was losing plenty of money. Since the move to NBC, the SNF franchise has become a remarkable success while MNF’s move to ESPN also revitalized that brand. It may have been a small switch at the time, but it was a key development to this recent explosion in the NFL’s popularity.