Live sport - especially the NFL - still rules the airwaves in USA
NFL American football accounted for 64 of the 100 most watched television shows in USA in 2018, with that number rising to 89 when other live sport is taken into account.
The winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang provided 13 broadcasts to the total, while college football (six), NBA basketball (four) and college basketball and Major League Baseball (one each) also featured in the top 100.
Only two of the top 20 most-watched shows of the year (the Academy Awards and an episode of This is Us broadcast immediately after the NFL’s Super Bowl on NBC) were not live sport, according to analysis by The Big Lead.
NBC broadcast both the Super Bowl and the winter Olympics last year, a move that Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Universal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News, described as “an unprecedented opportunity to reach viewers, in terms of both total audience scale and key demographics. The Super Bowl and Pyeongchang Olympics were watched in eight of every 10 US homes.”
NFL ratings increased by 6 per cent between 2017 and 2018. Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer of NFL Media, said: “The value of live content, and specifically the NFL, to uniquely aggregate audiences is becoming more and more special.
“We always in the NFL over long periods of time have been focused on getting the widest reach and distribution of our content. We’re the one league that requires all our games to be over the air in some way, shape, or form. But generally the vast, vast majority of our games are very widely distributed and that’s something that we think has really driven our success over time.”
Despite the advent of OTT, the figures show that the power of top live sport on broadcast television endures, the article stresses, quoting Patrick Crakes, a former Fox executive and now an industry consultant, who said: “Broadcast distribution has endured because there’s no substitute for the ability to reach everybody live. In an era where audiences are fragmenting at an accelerated rate in the moment live content requires a free path to every potential viewer in order to maximize its enormous value potential - and only broadcast does that.”