With the NFL’s schedule out, there are plenty of rankings of the primetime games by projected quality, including ours. But it’s also worth taking a look at how each network’s primetime schedule compares. Similar to our approach from last year, here’s a list of each network’s games with the teams’ win totals in 2019-20 and their ranking in viewership for nationally-televised games from the 2018-19 season (as per a January 2019 piece in Ad Age; more current data wasn’t available).
As with last year, NBC’s Sunday Night Football remains the strongest overall. However, this year has seen ESPN’s Monday Night Football slightly edge Fox’s Thursday Night Football in previous wins, while slightly trailing it in previous market rankings; the takeaway there is that those two schedules look more even than they’ve been at times. The NFL Network-only Thursday games remain a clear fourth. Here’s the full sheet (also viewable here):
The categories there are previous road wins (PRW), previous home wins (PHW), previous total wins (PTW), road market ranking (RMR), home market ranking (HMR), and total market rankings (TMR). So that has NBC’s Sunday Night Football in first with 20.7 PTW (high in PTW is good) and a TMR of 27.6 (low in TMR is good). ESPN’s Monday Night Football is second in PTW (17.7 to Fox’s 17.3), but slightly behind Fox in TMR (30.5 to 30.1). The NFLN-only Thursday games again bring up the rear with a TMR of 48.7 and a PTW of 11.0.
It’s interesting to see ESPN’s Monday Night Football receive what looks like a pretty good schedule after a year where they didn’t do a lot of obvious lobbying (unlike some past years), and in a year where their announcing booth is still in flux. Of course, there are some things not entirely accounted for by this analysis; in particular, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (seven previous wins and a 22nd overall market ranking) are a better national draw than they seem thanks to Tom Brady signing there. (However, NBC and ESPN each have them twice, while Fox only has them once, so that doesn’t shake up the ESPN>Fox rankings.) But it’s still interesting to crunch some numbers on previous wins and previous audiences and see how the networks do. And on the scheduling front at least, this is a good year for NBC (but it’s always a good year for them) and for ESPN (and it’s not always a good year for them).