NFL Week 1 is in the books and so are the ratings for the national TV partners. As we get ready for Week 2, let’s take a look at how the networks fared for the opening weekend of play.
Just to review, CBS had the national doubleheader, Fox had regional action for the opening Sunday, NBC had both the Kickoff Game and the season premiere of Sunday Night Football involving the proven ratings winner, the Dallas Cowboys and ESPN had its traditional Week 1 doubleheader.
All totaled, the combined average viewership was a Week 1 record for the NFL.
With avg of 19.9 million viewers for games on CBS, ESPN, FOX & NBC, 2015 was most-watched NFL KO Weekend ever. #NFLFanRecord Thank you!
— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) September 16, 2015
So how did the networks do individually in Week 1?
CBS had its first NFL Week 1 doubleheader since 2000 and it didn’t do as well as last year’s which had been on Fox.
We only have the overnight numbers thus far and CBS says it recorded a 14.7 rating with a 28 share for its late window highlighted by Baltimore-Denver at 4:25 p.m. ET. The early window received an overnight rating/share of 10.6/23.
When Fox had the late window last year, it received a 17.4 for Dallas-San Francisco.
CBS is comparing its window to its Week 2 doubleheader last year when it a 14.6/28 with New York Jets at Green Bay as its featured game at 4:25 p.m. ET.
A couple of caveats, first CBS’s singleheaders usually gave way to U.S. Open tennis at 4 p.m. ET so there was no late regional window and second, the AFC markets aren’t as large as the NFC’s so there are a little “apples and oranges” in the comparison.
The Worldwide Leader had an NFC doubleheader and it paid off with a ratings win against all broadcast and cable programming on Monday night. And it was the second highest-rated and second most-viewed Opening Week doubleheader since ESPN began airing Monday Night Football.
ESPN aired Philadelphia at Atlanta and Minnesota at San Francisco and for the first time since it began airing an opening week doubleheader in 2006, the West Coast game out-rated and had a greater viewership than the first game.
Vikings-49ers averaged an 8.8 rating with 14.3 million viewers, the highest West Coast game numbers since 2009 between San Diego and Oakland (7.6 and 11.95 million viewers). The rating was 24% better than last year’s late game (Houston-San Diego) and 31% higher in viewership.
The early game, Eagles-Falcons garnered an 8.5 rating with 13.56 million viewers. That was down 1% in both rating and viewership from last year’s New York Giants-Detroit Lions game played in the same timeslot.
Fox set a ratings record for its NFC regional coverage at 1 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. ET, its first Week 1 singleheader since 2000. Five games were aired in its two regional windows highlighted by Chicago-Green Bay at 1 p.m.
The regional coverage drew a very impressive 11.6 rating with a 26 share and 20.1 million viewers according to Nielsen fast national figures. That is the best rating for Opening Week 1 singleheader dating back to 1994 and is the most-watched since 1988.
This year’s numbers are up 17% in ratings and 22% better in viewership from last year’s singleheader on CBS in which all of the games aired at 1 p.m. ET.
See CBS above for the caveats for Week 1 comparison. Still, Fox is quite happy with its opening week numbers.
Thanks to having the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys in the Opening Weekend games, NBC saw huge viewership for the NFL Kickoff and its Sunday Night Football season premiere.
The NFL season opener on NBC last Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots was the second most-watched NFL Kickoff game since it began in 2002 on ESPN. Steelers-Pats earned 26.8 million viewers, just below the 27.5 million for the 2010 opener between New Orleans and Minnesota. In addition, the game had a very impressive 16.2 rating and a 28 share. The rating was up 3% from last year’s opener between Seattle and Green Bay.
As for Sunday, New York Giants at Dallas earned a 15.4 rating with a 27 share and 26.8 million viewers. The viewership is the second-highest SNF season premiere after the 27.6 million viewership for 2012’s Pittsburgh-Denver game.
So overall, some impressive numbers for NBC.
The NFL TV partners are off to a fast start. In Week 2, we have the season premiere of Thursday Night Football on CBS/NFL Network, Fox has the doubleheader with Dallas at Philadelphia as its lone game in the late window, NBC will carry Seattle at Green Bay on Sunday night and ESPN airs Jets at Colts on Monday.