Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers Oct 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL continued its rampant start to the 2023 season, with one media partner off to its best start in over two decades and another delivering its best Week 5 game ever.

CBS averaged 23.131 million viewers for its national broadcast window on Sunday afternoon (with nearly all of the country getting Chiefs-Vikings). That’s actually slightly down from the national window both last week and last year, but CBS is still averaging 18.290 million viewers for its NFL package through five weeks this season.

That’s the network’s most-watched first five weeks since 1998 when CBS regained a package of NFL games.

The early half of the CBS doubleheader, a three-game slate mainly featuring the Steelers’ ugly win over the Ravens, averaged 12.63 million viewers, also slightly down from last week and last year.

Fox averaged 16.81 million viewers for its five-game single header window (Eagles-Rams late was the most popular game), nearly flat from the single header last week and up from last year.

NBC also delivered another strong audience on Sunday Night Football. Per the network’s Total Audience Delivery metric, 26.1 million viewers watched the 49ers’ blowout win over the Cowboys across NBC, Peacock, and digital platforms, a stunning 54% increase from Ravens-Bengals last year and NBC’s most-watched Week 5 SNF window ever. It’s also the third-most watched game of this NFL season, behind just Lions-Chiefs in the Week 1 Kickoff game and Chiefs-Jets in Week 4.

For the season, NBC is averaging 23.8 million viewers for the SNF package across the first five weeks, SNF’s second-best mark on NBC since the package began in 2006.

In addition, Thursday Night Football is continuing to see positive gains on Prime Video. Amazon announced that last week’s Bears-Commanders game averaged 11.72 million viewers via Nielsen’s standard measurement. While that’s the lowest TNF audience of the season, it’s the fourth-straight week of double-digit gains for the package, which is up 20% from 2022 and 34% from 2021 over four games.

Week 6 of the season is now upon us, with highlights for most networks. Prime Video will air Broncos-Chiefs on Thursday. NFL Network airs a London game between the Ravens and Titans in the morning. CBS has a pretty poor-looking single header, highlighted by (I guess) Seahawks-Bengals and Patriots-Raiders. Fox has a doubleheader with three games early (49ers-Browns stands out there) and three games late (Eagles-Jets and Lions-Bucs). NBC will have Giants-Bills on Sunday night, and ESPN and ABC will air Cowboys-Chargers on Monday night.

[Data via Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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