What does it say about America that random NFL games dominate the most-watched TV list?

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The sports world was reminded of two important things over the last few months. One, Taylor Swift’s presence is a game-changer. Two, the people who once claimed they’d never watch the NFL again because Black players kneeled, are bonafide liars.

NBA getting ROCKED in the ratings by the NFL

Earlier this week, the NFL and CBS announced that Super Bowl LVIII, “delivered the most-watched telecast in history with a Total Audience Delivery of 123.4 million average viewers across all platforms, including the CBS Television Network, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, and CBS Sports and NFL digital properties, including NFL+.” Last Sunday’s game was up seven percent from last season’s contest (Chiefs-Eagles), which held the previous Super Bowl record of 115.1 million viewers.

The NFL has been trending up no matter what so many said from 2016-2018 when Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and Donald Trump made the NFL the best soap opera on TV, except with real-life consequences.

“We did research and it was relatively proprietary research, to be honest with you,” former CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said back in 2017 about the effect that kneeling had on ratings. “But I think if you look at some of the reasons why NFL viewership was down last year, [kneeling] is a reason that’s mentioned by a fair amount of viewers. It is something they don’t find attractive or they don’t find compelling in coverage of the football game. How big a factor it was? I don’t really know. But it was one of the factors that I think perhaps led to the slight decrease in ratings last year.”

However, McManus knew how much America is addicted to football.

“Listen, I do think the ratings will come back,” he said. “But you have to look at this relatively speaking: The NFL ratings are still by far and away the most attractive property in all of television by a huge margin. The fact the ratings were down marginally are of concern, but nobody is panicking and saying that the NFL is slipping in terms of its popularity or in terms of its dominance, relatively speaking to what else is on television.”

By 2021, 75 of the top-100 most watched broadcasts in this country were NFL games. In 2022, that number was 82. Last year, it was 93. According to a report by the Sports Business Journal from November, NFL viewership was at an eight-year high with a per-game average of 17.2 million viewers, which was the highest since 2015 through nine weeks. At points during last season we learned that NBC had at least 22 million people watching Sunday Night Football. CBS was having its best run in eight years. FOX was pulling in at least 17.6 million viewers. ESPN/ABC/ESPN2 weren’t too far behind. NFL Network and Prime Video were also up. Last year’s NFL Draft was a foreshadower as the three-day event drew 54.4 million viewers — 5.3 million more than in 2022.

There’s no reason to believe that the NFL won’t secure the last seven spots this year to dominate U.S. broadcasts, giving them all 100 of the most-watched things that Americans viewed on TV.

With the way this country obsesses over the NFL and college football, the sport has figured out how to package itself as Must-See-TV. On Tuesday, it was reported that ESPN and the College Football Playoff have agreed on a six-year, $7.8 billion extension that will make the network the home of the 12-team tournament through the 2031-32 season. The expected deal comes after the Big Ten completed a new seven-year, $7 billion media rights agreement with Fox, CBS, and NBC in 2022.

With March Madness a month away, college basketball will be back on the scene. That leaves the NBA with an added conundrum, as they need to figure out a way to garner more viewers.

“Add some (pro) wrestling to it, that sh-t is too political and boring,” rapper Vince Staples half-joking and half-seriously said on a recent episode of Paul George’s podcast about what he would do to make the NBA more exciting.” Staples went on to talk about how an active beef between LeBron James and Commissioner Adam Silver would increase viewership.

“Call me y’all, I got ideas,” he added.

In all seriousness, the NBA has to figure out something, given that it’s the league that’s trailing the NFL and college football, and doesn’t have a month that it owns as college basketball has with March.

However, if the NFL does manage to sweep all 100 of the most-watched American broadcasts in 2024, it will be a sad reflection of our society. It won’t have anything to do with the players, games, Taylor Swift, or whatever scandal/lawsuit the league is dealing with. It will be because we just survived a crucial Presidential election that will have an enormous effect on our future, and none of the things we watched on TV about it were as important as a football game. Wednesday’s Kansas City Chiefs’ parade was a reminder of that.

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