Football’s Still the Biggest Thing on the Small Screen
Sunday Night Football remains the highest rated show in primetime viewership, beating the top scripted show (The Big Bang Theory) by four million viewers.
- The NFL earns US$3.2 billion in profit per year, more than the NBA, NHL and MLB combined.
- Live sports were an unstoppable force for TV ratings, but they’re now facing digital disruption. At risk for the NFL: US$10 billion a year in TV rights. Those rights represent the source of 60 percent of the league’s revenue.
- The league is great for the networks: CBS alone makes US$1 billion in ad sales every year from its NFL deal.
From the TV Screen to the Smartphone Screen
The NFL has entered into several partnerships with tech giants, to reach the digitally-savvy.
- Twitter: Multi-year agreement that brings official NFL video to fans year-round, including a new 30-minute live digital show that airs on Twitter five nights per week during the regular football season. Live footage is augmented with NFL highlights, news and analysis, and historical content.
- Snapchat: Multi-year strategic partnership, in which the NFL has become the first pro sports league to have a presence on the “discover” platform. Additionally, Snapchat Live Stories are produced for every NFL game during the season, including the Super Bowl.
- Facebook: Recently inked deal that sees highlights go to Facebook directly after live gamers, as well as highlights shows on Facebook Watch.
- Amazon: The NFL has recently moved to Amazon Prime for digital viewing of Thursday Night Football.
- Periscope: Live, pre-game coverage that includes player warm-ups and sideline interviews, designed to give football fans behind-the-scenes access to teams on game days.
- Streaming accounts for about 5% of the total NFL audience, but it has seen a 25% increase in viewership over the last year.
The Millennial Challenge
According to a Sept. 2017 Forbes article, the average NFL viewer is now around 50 years old. How are they attracting the younger, millennial demographic?
- Millennials spend less than half (3:00 vs 6:42) the amount of time in front of the TV per day as Baby Boomers.
- An Oct. 2017 McKinsey study found that increases in sports options have caused fans of all ages to watch fewer games for shorter durations.
- Millennials are much more likely to view content non-linearly. In general, they remain sports fans and watch almost as many live games across all sports as Gen X (3.2 games/week vs. 3.4) and the same amount of highlights and other non-live sports (32 minutes/day).
Making America’s Game Global
Football is the quintessential American sport, but the league has great global ambitions.
- In 2007 the NFL launched its annual London Game Series, which as of this year has seen 26 of the league’s 32 teams play games in London.
- NFL ratings were up 60% in the UK this past year, thanks to a large TV deal with Sky and a relationship with the BBC, as well as a continued series of games played each season in the UK.
- Games have also started to be played in Mexico City, which hosted the Oakland Raiders against the Houston Texans in 2016, and New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders in 2017.
The numbers don’t lie — tv viewership is on a steady decline.
- The average audience for a game this season was 14.9 million, down 9.7% when compared with 16.5 million viewers for the 2016 regular season, according to Nielsen ratings.
- Cord cutting is on the rise: the number of broadband-only homes in the U.S. rose nearly 40% between 2016 and 2017 to 5.4 million.
- Weekly traditional TV viewing by Americans aged 18–24 has fallen by nearly half since 2011.
- Netflix now has more paying subscribers in the US than all of the top cable TV companies combined.
The Super Bowl Is Still TV’s Biggest Event
This year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles was the 10th most-watched program in TV history — even after the audience fell 8% from last year.
- On Super Bowl game day, Verizon fans (Verizon owns NFL mobile rights) used 18.8 TB of data in and around the stadium, the equivalent of a single user binge watching HD video for 435 straight days.
- The data usage by Verizon fans was 71% more than the 11 TB used at Super Bowl 51. At Super Bowl 50, Verizon customers used 7 TB of data – roughly 1/3 of Sunday’s big game.
- The top three favourite social media apps at the gamer were: Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, with Snapchat moving from third at last year’s Super Bowl to first most used.
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