Hall of Fame Game Browns QB Kellen Mond goes back for a pass in the second quarter of the Hall of Fame Game vs. the New York Jets at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Friday, Aug. 3, 2023.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game drew strong viewership Thursday on NBC, further showing off the NFL’s ridiculous drawing power.

Per Sports Media Watch, the Cleveland Browns’ 21-16 win over the New York Jets averaged 5.98 million viewers. While up from last year’s game, which averaged 5.48 million viewers, it’s the third-least watched Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in the last ten years.

However, any other sport would kill for nearly six million viewers for a non-playoff game (and some would even kill for that number in a playoff game), let alone a preseason game. The NHL, for instance, hasn’t had a game hit six million viewers since the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Six million viewers for an MLB game prior to the start of the playoffs is unheard of outside of the All-Star Game. The same is true for the NBA regular season.

And then, you’ve got the NFL, casually drawing nearly six million viewers for a Thursday night preseason game on broadcast TV. The league’s continued success for nearly all of its content, including preseason games, is jarring in a media landscape where cable networks are shedding millions of subscribers and streaming services are losing billions of dollars and shows why everyone wants a piece of the NFL.

Viewership for Saturday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, which aired on ESPN as part of a new long-term deal between the two entities, was not immediately available.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.