Jalen Hurts Eagles NFL Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) runs the ball against Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna (51) during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is rolling into the Playoffs on the heels of one of its most-watched seasons ever.

With the regular season in the books, viewership for the 2023 season as a whole has been calculated, and the league’s 2023 tied 2010 as its second-most watched ever.

Per the Sports Business Journal, the NFL averaged 17.9 million viewers for its full schedule of games. That’s a 7% increase from 2022 and ranks below just 2015 (18.1 million) as the league’s most-watched season ever.

Obligatory note: before 2020, out-of-home viewing was not counted by Nielsen’s viewership metrics.

NBC had the league’s most-watched package, averaging 21.4 million viewers for its bundle of games, highlighted by Sunday Night Football. That’s an 8% increase from last year and the most-watched season for NBC since 2015.

As we talked about earlier this week, CBS had its best-ever season since the NFL returned in 1998, averaging 19.345 million viewers. CBS also claimed the NFL’s most-watched window, averaging 24.637 million viewers for its national games on Sunday afternoon.

Fox was the lone NFL media partner to see viewership decline this season, sliding back just 2%. Its games averaged 19 million viewers. The Fox national window also finished just behind CBS, with America’s Game of the Week averaging 24.622 million viewers.

Aided by simulcasts on ABC, as we also have previously discussed, ESPN’s Monday Night Football package delivered its best season since 2000 by averaging 17.4 million viewers. This includes the ABC simulcasts, as well as the standard ESPN broadcasts and ManningCasts on ESPN2.

Prime Video’s package of Thursday Night Football games greatly improved in season two of exclusivity, as we’ve been tracking all season. The package averaged 11.9 million viewers, a 24% spike from year one.

NFL Network also saw a small increase for its smaller package of games this year. Those games averaged 7.5 million viewers, an increase of 5% from 2022.

There were plenty of external factors that helped the NFL’s viewership to a healthy increase this season, from further adoption of streaming platforms to the dual Hollywood strikes in the fall to better tracking of out-of-home viewing. But when all is said and done, this regular season still ended up as the league’s second-most-watched ever. That’s a superlative any sport would kill for.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Joe Lucia

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