Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season brought a disappointing run of numbers nearly across the board.
In the singleheader window for CBS on Sunday, a variety of games (highlighted by Raiders-Patriots) drew 16.57 million viewers. That’s down 12% from last year’s Week 3 singleheader on Fox (18.66 million for a slate highlighted by Broncos-Packers), but CBS is touting that this is the network’s most-watched September singleheader since Week 1 of the 2018 season. The network is also comparing the viewership for this year’s (Week 3) singleheader to last year’s (Week 2) singleheader, yet another reason people get very confused by NFL viewership spin.
Fox had the doubleheader in Week 3, and the news was mixed. The early part of the window, with Bears-Falcons going to most of the country, drew 11.68 million viewers, down 16% from last year’s early doubleheader (Ravens-Chiefs on CBS, 13.66 million). The late half of the window brought in 22.79 million viewers for Cowboys-Seahawks, up roughly 1% from last year’s late window on CBS (Saints-Seahawks).
Sunday Night Football on NBC also experienced a drop. Packers-Saints drew 17.80 million viewers, down 4% from Rams-Browns last season (18.59 million).
As we wrote on Friday, TNF was also down from last year on NFL Network.
And then, there was the much-hyped, largely anticlimactic Monday Night Football matchup between the Ravens and Chiefs. That game drew 14.02 million viewers, up 36% from Bears-Redskins a year ago. Last week’s Saints-Raiders game only drew 1.5 million more viewers, airing on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.
Week 4 might be ugly. TNF will be down – the only question is “how much?” Last year’s Week 4 game was Packers-Eagles, and aired on both Fox and NFL Network. This week’s matchup is Broncos-Jets, and only airs on NFL Network. SNF will also probably be down, with Eagles-49ers this year poised to be down from Cowboys-Saints last year, which drew over 24 million viewers. Fox has the singleheader this week, and with the Cowboys, Saints, and Seahawks all playing in the early window, they could do quite well (even though viewers in New York and Los Angeles won’t get one of those games, since Fox also has Giants-Rams). The doubleheader is on CBS, and while the early schedule isn’t great (aside from Tom Brady’s Bucs making a rare CBS appearance against the Chargers), the late window has a mouth-watering Chiefs-Patriots matchup going to nearly the entire country.