Despite the Summer Olympics, one of the biggest news dominating sports coverage is NFL training camps opening up. Even with the fragmentation of the television audience to other networks and mediums, the NFL still dominates the sports television landscape.
Last season’s Super Bowl on NBC was the most watched television program in history, beating out the last two Super Bowls. In fact, eight of the top ten watched shows of all time have been Super Bowls from the past 15 years. Meanwhile, according to Nielsen research, the ratings for the past five NBA Finals on ABC are down 40% since the mid 90’s and the past five World Series on FOX are down 60% since the mid 80’s.
The nation’s appetite for the NFL is not just limited to the finale of the season, but all year round. Last season, 14 of the top 20 rated cable telecasts were ESPN Monday Night football games. Meanwhile April’s NFL draft on ESPN was the eighth highest rated show on television that week, beating out any broadcast network show that night and the NBA playoffs that week. According to Arbitron research, 27% of adults 18+ in the country are “very” interested in the NFL, compared to 15% for the MLB, 10% NBA, 5% NHL. Not surprisingly only 28% are “not at all” interested in the NFL, compared to 35% for MLB, 45% NBA, and 54% NHL.
All this attention is reflected in the value of the franchises and networks that carry the NFL. Forbes recently listed the top 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world, and all 32 NFL teams made the list, compared to just seven MLB teams, two NBA teams, and zero from the NHL. Meanwhile ESPN is the 5th highest rated network and the NFL Network almost draws in as many viewers as the MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network combined.
Therefore, despite the expanding numbers of sports and entertainment options on TV, NFL is still king.