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September 15, 2022

Opening NFL weekend draws over 121 million viewers

The league's broadcast partners secured huge audiences for the start of the new season.

By Tariq Saleh

American football’s NFL attracted more than 121 million viewers across television and digital platforms for the opening weekend of its new season.

The figure represents a 5% increase from the opening weekend of 2021.

Average viewership for all games during the first weekend of the 2022 regular season was 18.5 million, the best start to an NFL season since 2016 and up 3% from last year.

Nearly 83 million viewers watched games on Sunday afternoon (September 11) – the most since 2016 and an increase of 7% from last year – and over 12 billion minutes of NFL action, the highest total on record and up 6% from 2021.

National network NBC drew the largest single-game audience of the weekend as 25.1 million viewers tuned in for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ big win over the Dallas Cowboys, a rise of 35% from last season’s comparable Chicago Bears vs. Los Angeles Rams fixture.

This marked the broadcaster’s largest Sunday Night Football audience since 2015.

For last Thursday’s (September 8) season opener between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, NBC drew just over 21 million viewers.

NBC’s combined viewership for the two broadcasts averaged 23.4 million viewers, which is the network’s largest number since 2016.

Major sports broadcaster ESPN attracted 19.85 million viewers for its first Monday Night Football (MNF) game of the new season as the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos.

This represented the network’s most-watched MNF game since 2009 and its third-best Monday game in the current era (since 2006).

Meanwhile, CBS Sports averaged 17 million viewers for its opening weekend double-header, its best week one average audience in four years.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals delivered CBS’ most-watched week one regional window since 1998 with almost 17.4 million viewers, an increase of 21% from last year’s comparable window.

The Paramount+ streaming service, which featured local market games, achieved its most-streamed NFL regular season week ever.

Sunday's games delivered double-digit growth in households, streaming minutes, and average minute audience (AMA) compared to the first week in 2021.

On Fox, the broadcaster’s double-header was watched by 15.4 million viewers, an 11% uplift from last season.

The Minnesota Vikings’ win over the Green Bay Packers drew an audience of 18.5 million, up 12% from last year.

Fox’s regional window delivered 12.1 million viewers, a rise of 7% from the same window last season.

The NFL’s second week of fixtures begins tonight (September 15) as streaming giant Amazon Prime Video will debut its exclusive Thursday Night Football coverage with the Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers.

The league secured 10-year agreements for its main broadcast packages with CBS, ESPN/ABC, NBC, Fox, and Amazon last year worth $110 billion running until 2033.

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