The latest broadcast numbers for all of 2022 are out, and surprise, the NFL dominated broadcast television once again.
If there is any doubt as to why tech companies like Alphabet (GOOGL) – Get Free Report and Amazon (AMZN) – Get Free Report are willing to shell out billions of dollars for the right to broadcast NFL games, the 2022 ratings results should address them.
The NFL accounted for 82% of the top-100 most-watched U.S. broadcasts in 2022, according to a study by Sports Business Journal.
That total is a slight uptick from the 75% share of the top-100 the NFL garnered in 2021.
The nation’s most-viewed program was NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVI on February 13th that drew 110.4 million viewers.
Sports broadcasts in general also dominated to top-100, accounting for 94% of the most-viewed broadcasts for 2022.
College football was second with five games cracking the top-100 shows.
FIFA’s World Cup and college basketball each saw two broadcasts reach the top-100 while the NBA and MLB both failed to make the list, even with the World Series and NBA Finals.
While sports dominated the top-100, especially the NFL, scripted television continues to see a decline in broadcast viewership.
For the second consecutive year, and only the second time in history, there weren’t any scripted television shows in the top-100.
There were four political broadcasts that made the list, including President Biden’s State of the Union address, which had the advantage of being broadcast on multiple networks.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast on NBC was one of the top non-sports related broadcasts with 21.6 million viewers, as was the infamous slap-fest that the Academy Awards turned out to be with 16.6 million viewers.
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NFL Media Landscape
The right to broadcast NFL games, which as the Sports Business Journal’s study shows is very lucrative, is what will separates media companies in the next phase of the streaming wars.
“First of all, NFL, continues to be just awesome,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell during his interview at the UBS Global TMT Conference last year. “The NFL is really just a source of strength. And we bundle that with virtually everything we do.”
Sports have been so good to NBC that Shell even expressed sympathy for rivals looking to navigate a media environment with dwindling ad spend.
“I feel for companies that don’t have NFL to package with the rest of their portfolio, because NFL is just a juggernaut. The ratings are great,” Shell said.
The legacy media companies (FOXA) – Get Free Report, ESPN (through Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report), CBS (through Paramount (PARA) – Get Free Report), and NBC (through Comcast (CMCSA) – Get Free Report) are all paying at least $2 billion annually to the league for broadcast rights for the next 11 seasons.
The Streamers Get Involved
Amazon was the first next-generation streaming service to get a piece of the NFL pie with its Thursday Night Football package.
Youtube followed by garnering the rights to the NFL’s all-encompassing Sunday Ticket package in late December.
The NFL’s Sunday Ticket package is the NFL’s comprehensive streaming package that allows viewers to see the league’s full slate of out-of-market games every Sunday.
In one-fell swoop, Youtube is now able to get access to potentially tens of millions of NFL fans that watch the games every Sunday.
Thestreamable.com conducted a survey of 2,562 fans who regularly watch the NFL. The study found that 48% of NFL fans “definitely will or are likely” to subscribe to Sunday Ticket once it is offered by a major streaming provider.
According to the study, more than 40% of those that never subscribed before said they would “definitely” will.
DirecTV has been paying $1.5 billion annually for the broadcast rights, but their deal with the league ran out at the end of this year’s regular season.