Another week of Sunday NFL games is in the book, and the league and two of its three TV partners are once again smiling and happy.
In Week 2 of the season, CBS and Fox were up in their daytime windows, while NBC was down for Sunday Night Football.
We’ll start with CBS, which drew a 9.9 overnight for its singleheader, up 19% from the second CBS singleheader in 2018 (8.3 in Week 3) and up 8% from the Week 2 CBS singleheader in 2017 (9.2).
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) September 16, 2019
This year’s singleheader consisted of a smorgasbord of six games, including the Patriots’ bludgeoning of the Dolphins, Chiefs-Raiders, and the Lions’ sloppy win over the equally sloppy Chargers.
Both of Fox’s windows on Sunday were also up. The doubleheader as a whole averaged a 13.6 overnight, up 16% from the CBS Week 2 doubleheader a year ago.
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) September 16, 2019
Splitting the doubleheader in half, the first part of it (five games nationally, dominated by Cowboys-Redskins) averaged an 11.4 overnight, which was up 21% from the first half of the Week 2 CBS doubleheader a year ago and a ridiculous 34% from 2017’s first half of the doubleheader on Fox. This also marked the highest overnight for a game in the front half of any doubleheader in nearly three years (Ravens-Cowboys, Week 11 of 2016), and Fox’s highest overnight for a game in the first half of a doubleheader in nearly six years (Lions-Eagles, Week 14 of 2013).
The doubleheader’s second half (Rams-Saints in most of the country, Broncos-Bears in the rest) also drew a wild 15.8 overnight, up 13% from the second half of last year’s CBS doubleheader and down by a tenth of a point from 2017’s doubleheader second half on Fox (Cowboys-Broncos)
And then there’s NBC, which drew a disappointing 12.2 overnight for the injury-ravaged Eagles-Falcons tilt.
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) September 16, 2019
(when there’s no direct football comparison in a network’s tweet about ratings, you know the game was down and it’s tough to draw a positive comparison)
Per Paulsen over at Sports Media Watch, that 12.2 marks the lowest Week 2 SNF overnight since 2008 (Steelers-Browns. Also: holy shit). It was down 12% from last year (Giants-Cowboys, so that isn’t surprising) and 3% from 2017 (Packers-Falcons).
But remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. NBC was up for both of its Week 1 games before this week’s drop. Both of ESPN’s MNF windows were up in Week 1. The late half of Fox’s doubleheader has been up in both weeks of the season. Fox and CBS have split their fortunes over the first two early windows of the season, up one week and down the other, but if my math skills are up to par, both networks are up overall on the season in that window.
What’s most noteworthy for me is when we’re seeing ratings data that is up beyond the last two years, as we saw with the first half of Fox’s doubleheader on Sunday. NFL viewership famously slipped in both 2016 and 2017 before rebounding a bit in 2018. If we start comparing viewership to years before that 2016 season, expect the league and its TV partners to bang that drum from the top of the highest building in the city.