As we head into the final week of the 2020 NFL regular season, the league is coming off one of its strongest weeks for viewership on the season.
Week 16 started off with Vikings-Saints on Fox and NFL Network on Christmas. The game drew 20.111 million viewers. There were no Christmas Day games in either 2018 or 2019, but there were two in 2017 – Steelers-Texans drew 17.1 million viewers across NBC, NFL Network, and Amazon Prime, while Raiders-Eagles drew 11.735 million viewers on ESPN. Two more Christmas games took place in 2016, with Steelers-Ravens drawing 14.8 million viewers on NFL Network and Chiefs-Broncos drawing 21.4 million viewers on NBC. Prior to that, the last Christmas game came way back in 2011.
The NFL had a tripleheader on Saturday in Week 16 as well. The early game was Bucs-Lions on NFL Network, which drew 6.072 million viewers. That’s up 14% from the early part of last year’s tripleheader (Texans-Bucs, 5.32 million viewers). The late game was Dolphins-Raiders, and that drew 8.447 million viewers on NFL Network. This is down 1% from last year’s late game (Rams-49ers, 8.50 million viewers). The middle game of the tripleheader this year was 49ers-Cardinals, which drew an estimated 4.8 million viewers on Amazon. That number goes up to 5.9 million viewers if you include the local networks in Phoenix and San Francisco that aired the game. Last year’s middle game of the tripleheader was Bills-Patriots, airing on NFL Network, and that game drew 9.60 million viewers.
Alright, now to the traditional windows!
CBS had the singleheader, with Colts-Steelers going to half the country. That window drew 15.698 million viewers, up 25% from last year’s singleheader (Ravens-Browns to half the country, 12.54 million viewers on CBS).
The doubleheader was on Fox this week. The early half drew 13.499 million viewers for Atlanta-Kansas City, down 2% from Saints-Titans on Fox last year (13.78 million viewers). The late half featured Rams-Seahawks to two-thirds of the country, and drew 22.112 million viewers. That’s a 13% decline from a year ago (Cowboys-Eagles, 25.32 million viewers on Fox).
In primetime, Titans-Packers drew 18.374 million viewers on NBC. That’s up 8% from Chiefs-Bears a year ago (17.03 million viewers).
Finally, Bills-Patriots drew 14.447 million viewers on both ESPN and ABC in the MNF season finale. That’s up 6% from Packers-Vikings last season (13.57 million viewers), though that game aired only on ESPN.
And now, we go into the final week of the regular season. Both networks have doubleheaders, and NBC has the final game of the regular season in primetime. In the early window, CBS has Steelers-Browns and Dolphins-Bills, while Fox has Cowboys-Giants. In the late window, CBS has Cardinals-Rams, while Fox has Packers-Bears and Seahawks-49ers. The primetime matchup on NBC is Washington-Philly, with WFT claiming the NFC East if they win.