NFL Week 1 Jalen Hurts Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is in the books, and you’ll be shocked to learn that the league’s media partners drew strong viewership across the board.

CBS led the way on Sunday, averaging 21.350 million viewers for the second half of its doubleheader (three games, highlighted by Eagles-Patriots). That’s good for the network’s most-watched Week 1 window since 2015.

In the early half of the doubleheader, CBS averaged 12.821 million viewers (four games, highlighted by Bengals-Browns). That’s down big from a year ago, which had the best regional Week 1 viewership since 1998.

NBC averaged 21.8 million viewers in primetime for the Cowboys’ blowout win over the Giants. That’s down big from last year when Cowboys-Bucs averaged a whopping 25.1 million viewers. On the bright side for NBC, viewership for Thursday’s Kickoff Game between the Lions and Chiefs was up big from last year, with the final viewership coming in at 27.5 million after Nielsen adjustments.

Fox brought up the rear on Sunday. Its late window (Packers-Bears) averaged 16.270 million viewers, down from Packers-Vikings last year in the late window. In the early window, Fox averaged 10.189 million viewers for a four-game slate highlighted by 49ers-Steelers, also down from a year ago.

Ultimately on Sunday, blowouts skewed the viewership for key windows. Plenty of TVs probably started clicking off on Sunday night as the Giants continued to get embarrassed by the Cowboys. Fox’s two windows, each headlined by a pair of tantalizing games on paper, were both disappointments, as the road teams got out to early leads they continued to build on. The CBS early game that went to much of the country was the least competitive on their slate, but all three of their late games were close and exciting, leading to the best viewership of the day.

[Data via Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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