NFL Opening Day ratings – A good sign for the league?

By Lee Cleveland, Polls and Trends - September 11, 2021

Finally, some good ratings news for the NFL.


Nielsen data showed viewership for Thursday night’s opening game between the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys was about 20 percent higher than last year’s inaugural shindig between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.

Per NBC, an average of 24.4 million viewers tuned in Thursday night while an additional 1.6 million accessed the event via streaming and other platforms.

As for the game itself, the favored Buccaneers fended off a surprisingly strong Cowboy team, winning 31-29 thanks to a field goal in the game’s waning seconds in an exciting affair in Tampa.

Opening game viewership, which settled around 26 million, was the highest since the 2015 opener when 27.4 million spectators watched the New England Patriots face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fact: In February 2021, Super Bowl LV attracted just 96.4 million viewers per ViacomCBS in what was the least-watched Super Bowl since 2007.

Is the NFL back?

Since 2016, the league had been plagued by lower-than-usual numbers supposedly due to political-related fan boycotts and disgust over the growing number of head injuries some blame on the sport.

Viewership for nearly every large television event has plummeted since the onset of the pandemic while cable news ratings have surged.

Tags: football, nfl, tv ratings