NFL Regular Season Game Viewership Up 10% to 17 Million

Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys on November 25, 2021
CBS's telecast of the Thanksgiving Day game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys was the most-watched regular season NFL telecast of 2021. (Image credit: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Regular season National Football League viewership rose 10% during the 2021 regular season from a year ago to average 17.1 million viewers, including both traditional TV and digital audiences.

With the season growing to 17 games per team, there were 370 billion total minutes consumed, up 18% and second only to the 2015 season. 

NFL games were the top 16 programs on TV, 48 of the top 50 and 91 of the top 100.

Also: NFL Game Ad Revenue Up 14% This Season: MediaRadar

The most-watched game took place on Thanksgiving Day when 40.8 million tuned in to CBS to see the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Dallas Cowboys. 

“Featuring incredible play on the field and close contests, the 2021 regular season proved to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating of all time,” said Hans Schroeder, NFL executive VP and chief operating officer, NFL Media. “This year’s schedule, highlighted by an enhanced regular season featuring 17 games, gave our broadcast partners the ability to provide fans with more football and incredible matchups than ever. We look forward to a strong finish with the upcoming postseason and Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.”

In March, the league signed new long-term rights deals with its television partners that will pay about $100 billion over the next 11 years. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.