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2010 Most Watched NFL Season Ever

With pending labor strife threatening the NFL, Joe Q. Public reminds both sides what is at stake

More fans are watching NFL games on television through the season's first nine weeks than ever before, according to information provided by The Nielsen Company.

More than 175 million fans have tuned in to at least part of an NFL game this season - topping the 170 million viewers at this point last year. The average NFL game telecast (including broadcast and cable) has drawn 18.3 million viewers - double the average primetime viewership (8.6 million) for the big four broadcast networks in the new television season.

Following are some fast facts about the NFL on TV at midseason:

  • NFL games account for the 14 most-watched programs on television since the NFL season kicked off on Sept. 9. This compares to NFL games accounting for the six most-watched shows at this point last season and none of the top 15 shows five years ago.
  • NFL games are averaging 18.3 million viewers - up seven percent from last year at this point (17.2 million).
  • NFL games account for the 30 most-watched programs on television (since Sept. 9) among adults aged 18-49 - with each of the networks televising NFL games represented on that list.
  • An NFL game telecast has been television's most-watched program in each of the nine weeks of the NFL season.
  • NFL games top the local ratings in NFL markets 86 percent of the time - the highest rate in history after nine weeks.
  • Ten NFL clubs have posted local-market ratings increases of at least 20 percent compared to last year at this time.

Following are the most-watched programs on television since the beginning of the NFL season:

Program

Viewers

1. FOX Sunday National (mostly Packers-Eagles), 9/12

28.0 million

2. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Eagles), 11/7

27.8 million

3. NBC Thursday Night Kickoff Game (Vikings-Saints), 9/9

27.5 million

4. CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Jets), 9/19

27.0 million

5. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Vikings), 10/17

26.0 million

6. NBC Sunday Night Football (Vikings-Packers), 10/24

25.7 million

7. NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Redskins), 9/12

25.3 million

8. FOX Sunday National (mostly Vikings-Patriots), 10/31

25.2 million

9. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Broncos), 9/26

23.1 million

9. FOX Sunday National (mostly Redskins-Eagles), 10/3

23.1 million

9. NBC Sunday Night Football (Giants-Colts), 9/19

23.1 million

12. FOX Sunday Single (mostly Cowboys-Texans & Eagles-Jaguars), 9/26

22.2 million

13. CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Chargers), 10/24

21.9 million

14. CBS Sunday Single (mostly Jets-Broncos & Ravens-Patriots), 10/17

21.5 million

15. Dancing with the Stars, 9/27

21.4 million

Source: NFL & The Nielsen Company, 9/9-11/7/10

Following is the list of 27 NFL markets where football was the top-rated program for the week of Nov. 1-7:

Week of 11/1-11/7

HH

HH

RTG

Market

Game

Date

RTG

SHR

Rank

Milwaukee

Cowboys at Packers

11/7/10

45.6

62

1

Kansas City

Chiefs at Raiders

11/7/10

45.2

68

1

New Orleans

Saints at Panthers

11/7/10

44.9

67

1

Indianapolis

Texans at Colts

11/1/10

43.6

58

1

Baltimore

Dolphins at Ravens

11/7/10

36.2

64

1

Philadelphia

Colts at Eagles

11/7/10

35.7

54

1

Minneapolis

Cardinals at Vikings

11/7/10

34.9

70

1

Cleveland

Patriots at Browns

11/7/10

32.2

59

1

Boston

Patriots at Browns

11/7/10

30.7

60

1

Buffalo

Bears vs Bills (Toronto)

11/7/10

28.8

48

1

Chicago

Bears vs Bills (Toronto)

11/7/10

27.1

53

1

Detroit

Jets at Lions

11/7/10

27.0

52

1

San Diego

Chargers at Texans

11/7/10

27.0

55

1

Atlanta

Buccaneers at Falcons

11/7/10

22.5

43

1

Nashville

Colts at Eagles

11/7/10

22.4

35

1

Houston

Texans at Colts

11/1/10

22.0

33

1

Phoenix

Cardinals at Vikings

11/7/10

21.3

45

1

Tampa

Buccaneers at Falcons

11/7/10

19.7

40

1

Charlotte

Saints at Panthers

11/7/10

19.5

38

1

Seattle

Giants at Seahawks

11/7/10

19.1

45

1

Washington, DC

Colts at Eagles

11/7/10

18.5

33

1

Pittsburgh

Dolphins at Ravens

11/7/10

18.2

36

1

Jacksonville

Colts at Eagles

11/7/10

18.1

28

1

Miami

Dolphins at Ravens

11/7/10

17.6

37

1

New York

Jets at Lions

11/7/10

16.5

35

1

Denver

Chiefs at Raiders

11/7/10

15.3

32

1

St. Louis

Chiefs at Raiders

11/7/10

14.5

25

1

Source: NFL & The Nielsen Company

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.