NFL starts 2019 season with 5-per-cent boost in TV audience

The National Football League started its 2019 season strong with an average minute audience of 17.1 million viewers on TV for all of its Week 1 games, up 5 per cent from the start of last season.

The opening slate of games, amounting to a total audience of 109 million, represented the top six programs in all of US television programming, despite a series of non-competitive games to open the NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys, beating the New York Giants 35-17, was shown on Fox in the late Sunday afternoon national window and was the most-watched game of the week with 23.9 million viewers.

That particular game, representing Fox’s most-watched Week 1 national game since 2016, included a potent combination of arguably the league’s most popular team with the Cowboys and the nation’s largest media market with New York.

Two national games on NBC including the September 5 league opener and the September 8 Sunday night game involving defending champion New England each drew 22.2 million viewers.

Digital viewership of live NFL games was up even by an even larger percentage as the league’s Week 1 games on streaming platforms drew an average minute audience of 514,000, up 43 per cent from last year. The league also generated more than 250 million views of non-live NFL video clips on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, a total up by a third from 2018.

The league’s solid start to the 2019 season extended to merchandise sales as well as Week 1 sales on and the network of Fanatics-powered e-commerce sites were up 30 per cent from the same period in 2018. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady amazingly remains as league’s top-selling player jersey despite his now playing his 20th season with the team.