Fox leads networks with 37% of primetime audience coming from sports

Fox through May 1 has pulled nearly 37% of its "primetime audience for the season from sports viewing," according to Rick Porter of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The net has the "highest number of primetime telecasts coded as sports: 159," or about 28% of its "total in primetime," among the big four broadcasters. "Thursday Night Football," which "improved by more than a million viewers over last season," is a "big driver of that." The World Series was "up about" 20% from the pandemic-altered fall classic in '20. WWE Smackdown also is "considered a sports program." Meanwhile, NBC has the "second largest share of both viewership and total telecasts coming from sports -- no surprise" in a season where it aired Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Games. Its 125 primetime sports broadcasts through May 1 are "just under" 20% of NBC’s total, and they account for 28% of the net’s "6.25 million viewer average this season." ABC’s 50 primetime sports broadcasts this season -- "mostly college football and NBA games" -- brought in "just 1 percent of the network’s 4.2 million viewers." CBS has aired the "fewest primetime sports telecasts in each of the past two seasons -- 42 this season and 45 in 2020-21 -- of any of the big four broadcasters." Most of those, however, are "big-ticket items like the NFL and the men’s college basketball tournament." So despite sports making up just over 5% of the "number of telecasts in primetime," they have delivered 11% of the "audience over the past two seasons" (, 5/9).

The chart below lists the number of sports telecasts on each of the big four broadcasters through May 1, along with the percentage of primetime viewers driven by those programs.

ABC 4.2 4.15 50 (7.8%) 1.1%
CBS 6.35 5.81 42 (5.4%) 8.5%
Fox 4.69 2.96 159 (28.1%) 36.9%
NBC 6.25 4.5 125 (19.7%) 28.1%
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Network TV viewership

NEW STRATEGY:'s Albert Breer noted Disney’s announcement of a "Monday Night Football" doubleheader on Sept. 19 "isn't actually a doubleheader." Vikings-Eagles, set for 8:30pm ET on ABC, will "kickoff right around" when Titans-Bills, set for 7:15pm on ESPN, "goes to halftime." It will be the "only occurrence of it this year," but starting next year, "we’ll see it three times every year." Games kicking off at 10:15pm ET "don’t rate," and that is "one reason the league abandoned having those as part of Monday Night Football in Week 1 last year." The late "MNF" game in '20, Titans at Broncos, attracted an "average of just 7.6 million viewers (the 2020 Thursday opener, by comparison, averaged 25.8 million viewers)." The year before, the number for that game, with the Raiders and Broncos facing off, was a "little more respectable (10.62 million viewers), but still low." The year before that, for Rams-Raiders, the number was 9.61 million. Those would "be good for other sports; for the NFL, they aren’t" (, 5/9).

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