As we enter the home stretch of the 2020 NFL season, viewership for the season remains down (though here’s your obligatory “still better than anything else on TV”). Week 14 was no exception, and just one of the league’s packages saw an increase from 2019.
We’ll start with that increase, which was the final game of Week 14. The wild Ravens-Browns matchup on Monday Night Football drew 12.422 million viewers on ESPN, That’s up 9% from Giants-Eagles on MNF in Week 14 a year ago, which drew 11.36 million viewers.
And now, the steady stream of declines. The Rams’ blowout win over the Patriots on Thursday Night Football drew 13.636 million viewers between Fox and NFL Network, down 24% from last year’s matchup between the Cowboys and Bears (18 million, the largest TNF audience of the last two seasons).
CBS had the singleheader in Week 14. Nearly half the country got Chiefs-Dolphins, and the window drew 16.007 million people nationally. That’s down 10% from last year’s singleheader (the bonkers 49ers-Saints game went to just over half the country on Fox, and the window drew 17.76 million viewers).
The doubleheader was on Fox in Week 14, and the network took a rare body blow to its viewership. The early half of the doubleheader, with Vikings-Bucs and Cardinals-Giants getting most of the distribution, drew 12.28 million viewers. That’s down 2% from a year ago (Ravens-Bills on CBS to two-thirds of the country, 12.59 million viewers). The late half featured a Drew Brees-free Saints team visiting the Jalen Hurts-led Eagles, and that window drew 22.52 million viewers. While still a strong number, it was down 20% from 2019’s Chiefs-Patriots window on CBS (28.11 million viewers).
Sunday Night Football featured a marquee matchup between the Steelers and Bills, and 17.053 million viewers tuned in to NBC for the game. That’s down 5% from Seahawks-Rams a year ago (17.88 million viewers).
It’s now time to look ahead to Week 15, which begins with Chargers-Raiders on TNF. That will be compared to Jets-Ravens a year ago, and could actually provide a gain for the package on Fox and NFL Network. We’ve got two Saturday games on NFL Network (Bills-Broncos, Panthers-Packers), which will have no comp to a year ago and go head to head with college football (the ACC and SEC title games, among others). Fox has the singleheader with a total of just five games, highlighted by Bears-Vikings and Seahawks-Washington early and Eagles-Cardinals late. CBS has the doubleheader, airing the flexed 49ers-Cowboys game early along with Patriots-Dolphins, and Chiefs-Saints to the entire country late. NBC has Browns-Giants on Sunday Night Football (comped to Bills-Steelers last year), and ESPN has Steelers-Bengals on Monday Night Football (comped to Colts-Saints).