TVB: For NFL Playoffs, Local Broadcast TV Yards Ahead of Cable

As the NFL playoffs reach the semifinals, the big winner so far is local broadcast television.

Viewers prefer to watch the games on broadcast TV over cable, according to an analysis of ratings from Nielsen data conducted by the local broadcast nonprofit trade association TVB.

For instance, for playoff games that air on both ABC and ESPN, ABC’s national household rating of 14.8 is 4 times higher than ESPN’s 3.7 rating.

“Game after game and season after season, ratings data confirms that local broadcast television remains the preferred outlet for NFL viewership,” said Steve Lanzano, TVB president and CEO.

The national male 25-54 rating for ABC was 12.1, compared to ESPN’s 3.1 average.

Viewership was even higher in the market of the teams playing. Take the Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans game, simulcast on ABC and ESPN. In Kansas City, ABC affiliate KMBC boasted a 45.4 household rating versus ESPN’s 6.6. In Houston, the ABC station KTRK registered a 28.2 household rating compared to ESPN’s 4.4.

The report also includes analysis of viewership for Thursday Night Football, where local broadcast remains dominant. For Thursday Night Football games this past season, when games aired on both CBS and NFL Network, CBS averaged a 10.9 household rating nationally compared to NFLN’s 2.1 rating. In fact, local TV is getting even stronger, as CBS’ household rating improved 6% from 2014. In addition, CBS’ male 25-52 rating jumped 5% during the 2015 season to a 9.2 rating, well above NFLN’s 2.4 rating.

The average household rating for local CBS affiliates was 28.9; NFLN averaged just a 3.8.

“Local television continues to dominate the live sports category with reach, engagement and influence that remains unrivalled by any other platform, providing marketers with a unique opportunity to optimize the results of their brand promotion, especially during the NFL season when fans and viewers are highly engaged with this immensely popular programming,” Lanzano said.

Click here for the full TVB analysis.