NFL television ratings rose this season by 5% compared with 2018, the league announced Friday. The increase is part of a two-year surge that has partially reversed viewership losses the league suffered in the middle of the previous decade.
The average NFL game was watched by 16.5 million viewers, the highest total since the 2016 season. It averaged 15.8 million in 2018 and 14.9 million in 2017. Meanwhile, digital viewership increased 51% compared to the 2018 season. According to the league, an average of 487,000 viewers streamed each game in 2019.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football saw the biggest gains with an 8% increase for the second straight year. The 17-game package over 16 weeks averaged 12.57 million viewers. The most-watched Monday night game was Seattle’s overtime win over San Francisco on Nov. 11 (16.73 million). That was also the highest viewership for a Monday night game since Dallas vs. Detroit in 2016.
Speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys continue to be among the largest draws, despite their 8-8 season. Dallas had three of the five most-watched games and the Cowboys had the top game on every package except Monday Night Football. Dallas’ Thanksgiving game against Buffalo on CBS was the top game at 32.6 million.
The NFL has been one of the few success stories amid a drop in television ratings for all shows. All of the top 10 broadcasts in 2019 were NFL games. NFL games also occupied 28 of the top 30 and 47 of the top 50 ratings slots.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.