The season-long story of NFL ratings bouncing back a bit from 2017’s lows has continued. As Paulsen writes at Sports Media Watch, three of the four Week 4 national windows Sunday saw a year-over-year rise, and the one that didn’t (Fox’s afternoon singleheader) still posted the best singleheader numbers of the season. The NFL’s ratings story is already looking better than it was last year.
First, the afternoon national window on CBS (mostly Saints-Giants, in 74 percent of metered markets; 49ers-Chargers elsewhere) posted a 12.3 overnight rating, which was the lowest national window number this year, but still a rise of 14 percent from last year’s 10.8 for Raiders-Broncos (the lowest overnight in more than a decade). It’s notable that this is still a double-digit drop (17 percent) from the 14.8 Fox pulled in this slot in 2016 (for mostly Cowboys-49ers), though.
CBS also saw an increase for the early game of its doubleheader (mostly Dolphins-Patriots, but also Bills-Packers and Bengals-Falcons), posting a 9.2. That was a boost of 14 percent over last year, and a remarkable 24 percent gain over Fox’s early Week 4 game in 2016 (but it should be noted that that was Seahawks-Jets).
The Sunday Night Football story was also good for NBC. Ravens-Steelers brought in a 12.3 overnight, a rise of 12 percent over the 11.0 posted in both 2017 (Colts-Seahawks) and 2016 (Chiefs-Steelers). That also marked the third straight SNF game to hit a multiyear high in overnights, although adjustments down in final nationals meant the previous two finished behind the 2016 numbers in the final tally.
The lone year-over-year decline Sunday came from Fox’s singleheader, which was widely divided, but had Lions-Cowboys as its largest game. The singleheader pulled in an 11.7, down seven percent from 2017’s 12.6 (Rams-Cowboys or Panthers-Patriots), but a boost of 10 percent over the 10.6 singleheader overnight rating on CBS in 2016.
All in all, this was about the same as the NFL ratings story to date. The numbers are recovering from the 2017 lows, or at least not dropping any further (heading into this week, the overall picture was largely flat). And this week even saw some gains over 2016. That’s good news for the NFL indeed, and even Robert Kraft probably won’t be too upset with how this week’s ratings are covered.