NFL TV Ratings 2021: Week 1 Viewership Increases, Primetime Games Among Most-Watched in Years
Football fans couldn’t wait for the 2021 season to begin after seven months of no important NFL games. Week 1’s television ratings were among the greatest in recent memory for the league.
In comparison to 2020, the opening slate of NFL games saw a 7 percent increase in viewership. The NFL had its second-best opening week in Nielsen ratings in the last five seasons, with an average of 17.4 million viewers.
The Kansas City Chiefs versus Cleveland Browns game on CBS at 4:25 p.m. EDT was the most-watched Sunday afternoon game. According to CBS, approximately 20 million people watched the second half of the show, giving the network its second-best Week 1 viewership in 23 years.
On Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers drew huge crowds to kick off Week 1. With 26.4 million viewers, including streaming, the season opener was the most-watched kickoff game since 2016.
The season premiere of “Monday Night Football” attracted the most viewers in eight years. On ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC, an average of 15.29 million people watched the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Baltimore Ravens.
Both primetime games came close to the wire, which helped. The Raiders won an overtime thriller against the Ravens, while the Buccaneers upset the Cowboys on a field goal in the final seconds.
On “Sunday Night Football,” an average of 17.64 million viewers watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Chicago Bears 34-14. The blowout had a 7% lower viewership than last year’s Sunday night debut, which was decided by three points.
The first week of the 2020 season had an average of 16.3 million viewers. The NFL remained a ratings powerhouse, despite a 10% drop in viewership from the previous season.
In comparison to other major sports, the NFL’s viewership dropped just slightly during the pandemic.