Who Prefers Other TV Shows to ‘Sunday Night Football’?

If NFL season is delayed, there will be a new No. 1 show on TV for the first time since ‘American Idol’ 10 years ago

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We all miss sports, and that sentiment goes double for television executives who have paid heavily for those television rights but are no longer enjoying the ratings spoils.

It is currently unclear if the coronavirus pandemic will impact the NFL season, which runs exhibition games in August and kicks off in earnest each September. If the pro pigskin gets delayed, we’ll have a new No. 1 show on TV for the first time since “American Idol” claimed that throne back in the 2010-11 season.

For the past eight TV seasons, “Sunday Night Football” on NBC has been the top dog. But no National Football League games would also impact Fox (“Thursday Night Football”) and ESPN (“Monday Night Football”) in primetime, as well as Fox and CBS midday on Sundays.

As dominant as the NFL is, we found two demographics that prefer another broadcast TV series.

Adults 50 and older actually watch more “NCIS” on CBS than they do “Sunday Night Football” (or any other football telecast, or any other telecast in general). Among that group, “NCIS” scores a 10.9 rating to “SNF’s” 9.5.

Women 18 to 34 tune in to “The Bachelor” on ABC more than they watched football, with the reality dating competition drawing a 3.3 to “Sunday Night Football’s” 3.0.

Among Kids 2 to 11, “Sunday Night Football” is in a tie with Fox’s “Masked Singer,” with both averaging a 2.0 rating from September 23, 2019 through March 22, 2020.

All numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s “most current” ratings data set, which includes a week of delayed viewing where available. The shows that are still airing or have aired with the past two weeks, like “NCIS,” “The Masked Singer” and “The Bachelor” could all slightly rise when updated averages become available.. The football figures are very much in the books.

If you’re wondering why some of those numbers are significantly larger than others, that’s merely reflective of the fact that older people watch more linear television (especially broadcast) while younger consumers are often drawn to streaming, cable, gaming and other activities — including ones that don’t include video at all, if you can believe it.

Of all the demos, the one most important to companies advertising on primetime entertainment programming is adults 18 to 49. Below are the Top 10 broadcast series in the key demo’s Nielsen ratings this season:

  1. “Sunday Night Football” (NBC): 6.0
  2. “Thursday Night Football” (Fox): 4.5
  3. “Sunday Night Football – Pre-kick” (NBC): 4.1
  4. “The OT” (Fox’s NFL postgame show): 3.6
  5. “The Masked Singer” (Fox): 3.2
  6. “Football Night in America – Part 3” (final half hour of NBC’s pregame show): 2.9
  7. “This Is Us” (NBC): 2.7
  8. “The Bachelor” (ABC): 2.4
  9. “9-1-1” (Fox): 2.3
  10. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC): 2.2

Like we mentioned about “The Masked Singer” and “The Bachelor” above, “This Is Us,” “9-1-1” and “Grey’s” could theoretically tick up (slightly) when their delayed-viewing averages are updated for the most recent episodes.

Tony Maglio

Tony Maglio

TV Editor • tony.maglio@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tonymaglio


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