NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football is again the #1 primetime show

STAMFORD — The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted countless rituals — but it hasn’t stopped many millions of fans tuning in to watch a marquee NFL game every fall Sunday night.

With Wednesday marking the final day of the 2021-22 television season, Stamford-based NBC Sports announced that its “Sunday Night Football” would end as the most-watched prime-time show for the eleventh consecutive year.

During the 2021 NFL regular season, SNF averaged 19.3 million total viewers across the NBC network and digital platforms — an 11 percent increase from last season, according to data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. At the time, for its 12th consecutive TV season, SNF was the #1 show for viewers aged 18-49, a highly valued demographic by advertisers.

“We’re very proud to finish our 11th consecutive season as the #1 primetime TV show, in addition to presenting our first full season on Peacock, which has helped us set an SNF streaming record,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, in a statement. “We look forward to continuing this legacy of excellence as we embark on another much-anticipated ‘Sunday Night Football’ schedule beginning in September.”

In the second NFL season played during the pandemic, SNF still faced uncertainties. But it benefited from games being played again in full-capacity stadiums and fewer disruptions to scheduling than in 2020. The most-watched SNF game of last season and the most-watched prime-time show last fall saw Game 19 watched by an average of 27.2 million: 17 win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the New England Patriots on October 3.

“With the fans back in the stadiums and the vibrancy and energy of the people in the stands, it means a lot,” Bevacqua said in an interview last December.

SNF underscored its dominance and for the first time more than doubled viewership of the most-watched scripted TV show. SNF’s average TV audience of 18.5 million compared to the multi-channel average of 8.9 million for the drama series Yellowstone.

The show also dominated on digital platforms, with Peacock live-streaming all NBC-broadcast NFL games for the first time this season. An SNF-record 843,000 viewers in the “average minute audience” across Peacock, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, NFL Digital platforms and Yahoo Sports mobile platforms — 48 percent more than the previous record of 571,000 set last season.

The SNF’s run as the #1 prime-time program has lasted much longer than previous dynasties. “American Idol,” which previously held the record for longest No. 1 run, topped the rankings from 2005 to 2011.

NBC Sports seconded a total of about 140 Stamford-based employees last season to work for SNF and its lead-in show Football Night in America. FNIA is filmed at NBC Sports’ headquarters at 1 Blachley Road in Stamford and at the stadiums where SNF games are played.

The 2022 season will mark a new era for the SNF announce team as Mike Tirico succeeds Al Michaels as play-by-play announcer. At the same time, Melissa Stark will replace Michele Tafoya as a sideline reporter. Cris Collinsworth will return as an analyst.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2022 regular season begins September 8 when the Super Bowl champions Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills.

[email protected]; tweet: @paulschott

Leave a Comment