Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season is in the books, and all but one of the league’s TV partners can breathe easy.

Following an increase for Thursday Night Football’s NFL Network premiere last week, Fox Sports saw its weekly viewership rise for the second straight week, while ESPN and NBC also recorded increases. CBS, on the other hand, got pounded in their doubleheader.

We’ll start with the bad. CBS drew just 9.75 million viewers, per ShowBuzz Daily, for its early window on Sunday. The early game for most of the country was either Giants-Bears or Broncos-Steelers, and much like last week, no one in New York gave a shit about their local teams. According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, the Giants drew a 7.4 rating in New York for their loss to the Bears, and the Jets (also playing in the early window, albeit on Fox) drew just a 3.9 rating for their loss to the 49ers. Combined, that’s less than a million people in the country’s largest market watching the NFL in the league’s early window. Not great, Bob!

Last year, CBS only had a singleheader, and the window (Chiefs-Raiders and Patriots-Dolphins) drew 15.24 million viewers, per Sports Media Watch.

The late half of the window was also a disappointment. With most of the country getting Chiefs-Chargers, that window drew 18.87 million viewers.

Fox’s singleheader, in comparison, did quite well. The window, with Falcons-Cowboys, the aforementioned 49ers-Jets, and Washington-Arizona (late) going to most of the country, drew 16.87 million viewers. Last year, Fox had the doubleheader in Week 2, and the early window (Cowboys-Redskins to half the country) drew 16.09 million viewers. The late window (Saints-Rams) drew a whopping 23.34 million viewers. This marks Fox’s second increase of the season in as many weeks, while CBS has declined in both weeks.

Again, beware of bad comparisons. Fox’s viewership was up 10% compared to the singleheader last year (which aired on CBS), and given the inconsistent nature of which network gets a doubleheader which week, that’s generally the accepted comparison (as opposed to say, something absurd like comparing a singleheader to one half of a doubleheader or, even more ridiculously, the average of two doubleheader games). Both halves of the CBS doubleheader this year were down double digits from the Fox doubleheader last year – 39% in the early window (talk about ugly) and 19% in the late window.

Sunday Night Football also saw a rise, but that increase was so small that you might as well just call it flat. Patriots-Seahawks drew 17.69 million viewers on NBC, up a hair over Eagles-Falcons a year ago (17.64 million viewers). As I’ve said before – any increase is only a good thing, but with such a high-profile matchup this year and a lower profile matchup a year ago, NBC was probably hoping for a stronger increase.

And then, there is Monday Night Football, which aired on four networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and ABC) this week. Via ShowBuzz Daily, Monday’s game between the Raiders and Saints drew 7.45 million on ESPN and another 7.98 million on ABC, while viewership for the ESPN2 Megacast feed was not immediately available. The cable and broadcast simulcast’s total of 15.43 million viewers was up 31% from last year’s game, which drew 11.8 million viewers and aired only on ESPN.

What’s on tap for Week 3? TNF has Dolphins-Jaguars, which doesn’t seem very appealing, but will be comped to a Titans-Jaguars game last year that didn’t even draw 6.5 million viewers. Fox has your doubleheader this week, and America’s Game of the Week in the late window is Cowboys-Seahawks. In the early window, Fox’s best game is Rams-Bills, and CBS has a couple of good games in Raiders-Patriots and Texans-Steelers. The New York market seems poised to once again bring laughable numbers to the table, with 49ers-Giants on Fox early and Jets-Colts on CBS late. In the primetime windows, NBC has Packers-Saints on Sunday, which should do quite well (especially comped to Rams-Browns), and ESPN’s Chiefs-Ravens matchup on Monday night should draw plenty of eyeballs (last year’s game was Bears-Redskins).

[Data via ShowBuzz Daily, Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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

18 thoughts on “NFL Week 2 viewership: CBS takes a bath, all other networks rise

  1. Hmm, seems that the games televised that have NO fans in the stands suck in the ratings.Maybe w eviewers are trying to tell the NFL HQ, and those networks you bete rget on those local politicians asses that govern those stadium locals to get open as most all the country is.Like, get on with your livesm take back your lives, and get living again and stop being so damned fearful and scared.

    1. Stadiums are empty because og Covid-19 restrictions, dumbass, not because of “political statements” Take your unproven conspiracy bullshit and shove it up your unwashed ass, boy!

      1. “political statements” did he use those words? i don’t see them if he did.

      2. Name calling. ALWAYS how a Dim retorts. Oh sorry – might be too big a word for you. Let me help:
        say something in answer to a remark or accusation, typically in a sharp, angry, or wittily incisive manner.

      1. and with restaurants at 25% capacity, still proof that no one is watching.

  2. Do they measure time watched in addition to just total eyeballs? Curious what that looks like. I’ve been an avid fan for going on 50 years, but I find I’m watching less and less. Used to sit there and stare at it for hours; now I flip it on for 15 minutes and then do something else. Advertisers care how many people see their commercials, not how many may have tuned in for 5 minutes.

    Empty stands with phony crowd noise, bad announcing, political messaging, etc all add up to making it harder to watch for an extended period of time. Not to mention all the problems the NFL has had for years — no flow to the games, stupid and inconsistently applied rules, bad officiating, etc.

  3. Not many people are mentioning the change that Nielson added to the way they count viewership that just went into effect September 1st. These numbers also include bars and ‘communal viewing spaces’ which last year they did not. Considering that caveat, I would contend that these numbers aren’t just down they are flat out disastrous for the NFL. Now no one can measure the effect adding numbers from bars and other places to the actual numbers especially during Covid; however, to state the numbers are flat, or have increased when compared to last year is flat out incorrect.

  4. Romo or Aikman … who is worse ? the giggling idiot or the mumbling mush brain. Wonder why viewers are down start with those two morons.

    1. Those two are responsible for the rising numbers in the NFL viewership, dumbass!

  5. Most popular form of entertainment in the country is doing just fine. Shocker.

  6. The ratings should be higher given that we have nothing else to do but stay at home and watch sports on TV.

  7. This past weekend both the Sunday and Monday night games were actually quite compelling, which explains the pretty good ratings.

  8. If you served, how can you possibly support the nfl with its total disregard for the sacrifices veterans have made, all the while, demonstrating in the name of heinous thugs and felons?

  9. Total BS. EVERYONE I know has stopped watching this now political, watered down version (see: 60s-70s ) of NFL. Flags, timeouts, video review, commercials, commercials, commercials. BS ratings are up.

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