Winners and Losers in NFL media for 2023.

As another NFL season has come to a close, it’s time to look back before we look forward. While we saw a lot of upheaval in TV booths last season, this year was stable for the networks. It also led to record viewership across the board all the way to the Super Bowl.

In addition to record ratings and viewership, the league for the most part had a good year. From new fans due to the Taylor Swift effect to another Kansas City Chiefs championship, the NFL definitely could not have asked for a better result to the season.

This year’s winners and losers will be different from last year with one exception. Let’s get to it without any further delay.



Sep 10, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; A CBS Sports microphone on the sidelines during the game between the against the Las Vegas Raiders against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The venerable NFL on CBS had its best season in years. Averaging over 19 million viewers for the regular season, it was the Tiffany Network’s best numbers since it returned to the National Football League as a media partner in 1998. That included the most-watched window at 4:25 p.m. ET. In addition, CBS had the most-watched regular season game with Washington-Dallas at under 42 million viewers on Thanksgiving Day.  It also had a great postseason topped with Super Bowl LVIII at with an average viewership of 123.7 million, now the most watched program in U.S. television history.

With the second overtime Super Bowl, CBS’s parent company, Paramount Global reaped a windfall from the extra period of commercials added to the already record amount of ad sales to the Big Game.

CBS is a big winner for the just-completed season.


ESPN’s Monday Night Football benefited from a couple of things. First, an improved schedule and second, the actors’ and writers’ strikes in Hollywood led to more simulcasts on ABC. This combination gave the original primetime football series its best numbers since 2000. With more games including an exclusive London contest streaming for ESPN+, three Monday doubleheaders, a Week 18 Saturday afternoon double dip, and a new Divisional Playoff game, there’s no doubt that ESPN is going to be in the NFL business for quite some time. The question is whether the season-long ABC simulcasts will continue in 2024-25.


Noah Eagle calling a FS1 NCAA basketball game in February 2022.
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NBC Sports tapped the younger bird of Ian Eagle to call a couple of NFL games this season and along with his regular Big Ten Saturday Night partner, Todd Blackledge, received wide praise for their Week 16 call of Pittsburgh-Cincinnati and then the Wild Card Playoff game call of Cleveland-Houston.

Eagle also called the CBS Sports-produced Nickelodeon “Nickmas” game between Las Vegas and Kansas City and the SpongeBob Super Bowl LVIII alternative cast. Knowing that he would have a different audience for the Nickelodeon telecasts than the ones on NBC, Eagle tailored his calls making references that young kids would know rather than going hardcore on football strategy and realizing that those details would not be important.

With Eagle doing well on the Big Ten and the NFL, there’s no reason to believe that weekly Sunday games won’t soon be in his portfolio down the line.


Peyton and Eli Manning
ManningCast auditions for the third host, screengrab via Omaha YouTube.

The ManningCast continues to roll along. While the novelty may have worn off and there were instances when viewership dropped under a million viewers in 2023, the ManningCast is the gold standard for alternative telecasts. In addition, younger brother Eli Manning continues to pound Peyton for his big forehead, a running joke that has spread to the Nationwide commercials with Brad Paisley.

The ManningCast continues to attract A-list guests and widespread praise for its concept. Whether the Mannings are talking about butt-cheeks, being skewered for their quarter-zips or dealing with a bored Mark Wahlberg, the formula still works.

ManningCast producer Omaha Productions has spread its wings with more productions like podcasts, documentaries, its ever-expanding “Places” universe on ESPN+ and its presence on the NFL Pro Bowl Games.

The ManningCast should be with us for many years to come.


Peacock became a dirty word among NFL fans when the league announced NBC won the rights to stream a Wild Card Playoff Game. Complaints increased when fans learned the game would become the Miami Dolphins at the Kansas City Chiefs. Shots were fired from Bill Simmons, Charles Barkley, Congress, Mike Francesa to even Howard Stern and most likely your parents.

No matter how loud the complaints got, the NFL got solid numbers from the Wild Card on Peacock and was very happy with them. And according to reports, the streaming service added subscribers and seemingly kept them.

The streaming Wild Card Game in the 2023 playoffs was not a one-time thing as during Super Bowl Week, the NFL announced that next season, Amazon will be the platform that streams a Wild Card game taking over for Peacock.



Dec 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Thursday Night Football Amazon Prime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight year, Al is in the loser category, but this time, it’s for a totally different reason. Despite him being under contract with NBC to call a playoff game, the network elected not to use him and went in another direction. NBC Sports utilized the aforementioned Noah Eagle on one game then it had Mike Tirico call two games including the one on Peacock. Reportedly, Michaels was blindsided by the move and according to more reports, it was due to a deteriorating relationship. This ended a postseason streak that dated back to 1990 when ABC got the rights to a Saturday afternoon Wild Card doubleheader.

However, do not cry for Al. He will be back on the playoffs next season as we explained above as Amazon got the rights to a Wild Card game next season.


One day after the Peacock-only playoff game, NBC released a video touting the game's overwhelming success. It was met with backlash. Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC

Once again, we have a winner that is also a loser. Last year, we listed Apple in both categories and you can see why here. Why is Peacock a loser when it’s also a winner? Well, it did fall in viewership behind the traditional partners for its Week 16 game. Because Peacock was streaming the game as part of a NBC Saturday doubleheader, fans were confused over the move despite plenty of promos informing fans of the Peacock exclusivity.

Despite being exclusive to most of the country, NFL rules dictate that home markets of cable and streaming broadcast be made available over-the-air, so for its regular season game between Buffalo and the Los Angeles Chargers plus the Wild Card game between Miami and Kansas City, viewers in those four markets were able to watch the games on the local NBC affiliate.

Also, its boastful crowing of Peacock’s viewership the day after its Wild Card game did not go over well with fans. It’s one thing to take a victory lap, but it’s another shoving it into everyone’s face a day after the game especially when the concept to stream an NFL playoff game for the first time was such a sore subject. Yes, NBCUniversal was Proud as a Peacock over the streaming numbers, but read the room.


Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV

This could have been a winner and for the most part, Google’s first year as a major NFL media partner went well. YouTube TV had some growing pains as the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket. In Week 8, one of the biggest fears about moving NFL Sunday Ticket from DirecTV to streaming reared its ugly head. YouTube TV had major buffering issues that led to many complaints and caused fans to miss a considerable amount of action. Fans yearning for a one-week credit never saw one, but YouTube TV execs said those issues were fixed and would not be seen again. Luckily, there weren’t any issues for the rest of the season.

Also, the lack of customizable multi-view option instead of one that was provided by the service was another reason why NFL Sunday Ticket cannot be put in the Winners category.

Once NFL Sunday Ticket goes an entire season without any buffering issues and YouTube TV provides more innovation as promised can we put this into a Winners slot.

So those are our Winners and Losers for the 2023-24 NFL season. Coming up next season, we’ll be watching a few new stories like how Tom Brady does as a new TV analyst, if Greg Olsen stays with Fox or if he goes to a new home, and if this will be Al Michaels’ final season. All that will likely make up the Winners and Losers for 2024-25.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.