The Increasingly Popular NFL

The Green Bay Packer's Super Bowl win was the most watched in American History. (AP)
The Green Bay Packer's Super Bowl win was the most watched in American History. (AP)

Sunday's football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers drew an estimated one hundred eleven million domestic viewers. It was enough to make that game the most-watched U.S. television show in the history of the medium.

The NFL's current management-labor dispute not withstanding, professional football is riding an impressive wave of popularity.

According to the Nielsen Company, viewership of regular season NFL games is up thirteen percent over last year, and the three networks involved drew more than twice as many viewers to their football games as they did to their other primetime programming.

Based on those numbers, Pat McDonough, a senior vice president for insight and analysis at the Nielson Company, concluded earlier this week that this has been "arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had," and it's impossible to argue that the NFL is not television's greatest hit.

You may or may not think that's good news, but consider the alternatives.

If the number one television show of all time wasn't a football game, it could be a competition between singers, some of whom seem to have been awarded their opportunities so they could be ridiculed. Or it could be the train wreck created by a collection of witless narcissists whose chief claim to fame is that they are from New Jersey, which- take it from a guy who was born there- is not necessarily that big a deal. Or it could be a drama about a criminal who beats somebody else stupid in one of the CSI settings, where- unlike the NFL - there are no rules. Although, if you leave any bodily fluids behind at the scene of the crime, those clever, if socially awkward folks back at the lab, are gonna examine them and catch you.

Those experts at Nielsen have reported that as a nation we watched more television than ever in 2009, and then we broke our own record in 2010. We're up to thirty 34 hours per person, per week. So if you're one of those people who worry about the implications of a football game being the most-watched television program ever produced, you might want to consider the other jewels in the setting within which that statistic shines.

This program aired on February 10, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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