THE 7 REASONS WHY THE NFL HAS RECORD RATINGS NOW
(The new issue of The Hollywood Reporter analyzes football's appeal over other sports, and why it dominates this season, especially in the 18-49 demo.)
The TV ratings this season are being absolutely dominated by the NFL on network and cable. Most impressive is that on Sunday, one of the most heated nights of television, NBC's SNF has been routing the competition. The Nov. 21 game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles averaged 23.2 million viewers - the best number for a November NFL game in 14 years. And let's not forget that Super Bowl XLIV in February was the single most-watched television program in history.
What's working for the NFL seems to be a combination of things, including:
1) Players with increasingly amazing speed, size, power and freakish athleticism. It's an adrenaline shot of pure sports mixed with scary brutality.
2) A short, tense season: 16 games com- pared with baseball's 162 and basketball's 82. Every game matters, and losses hurt more.
3) The game is ours. No other country can field a team that would beat the lesser lights in our college system.
4) Football is an ideal TV sport, and net- works continue to come up with clever ways to enhance the viewing experience. Wait until 3D TV takes hold.
5) More than other sports, even nonfans know many NFL players - from celeb-dating quarterbacks Tom Brady and Tony Romo to reality-show star Terrell Owens and the soap opera that is Brett Favre.
6) Fantasy football holds a powerful grip on fans. It's an addiction/hobby so prevalent that every channel covering the NFL, from ESPN to Fox, runs fantasy stats during games. And the league itself has embraced it.
7) Football wagering brings in three times the amount of gambling revenue in Nevada as the next-closest sport (basketball). And that doesn't take into account online, offshore or office pools.
So why the surge now?
The most likely culprit is an exceptionally weak fall TV season.