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Study: NFL makes up 75 of top 100 most-watched US broadcasts in 2021

Super Bowl on CBS ranked first, reaching an audience of 91.63m.

10 Jan 2022 Rory Jones

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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers games made up three of top five most watched broadcasts
  • Top 100 also includes 11 events from Tokyo Olympics
  • No NBA, MLB or NHL broadcasts featured in the list

National Football League (NFL) games made up 75 of the top 100 most-watched broadcasts in the US in 2021, according to a study by Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

The SBJ data reveals that the top five broadcasts were all NFL games. The 2021 Super Bowl, which aired on CBS on 8th February, was the most viewed broadcast. An audience of 91.63 million viewers tuned in as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9, securing quarterback Tom Brady’s record seventh Super Bowl win.

The Bucs featured in 11 of the top 100 and three of the top five most watched broadcasts, with the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers and divisional round playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints also making the top five, generating 44.77 million and 35.46 million viewers respectively.

Also among 2021’s five most-viewed broadcasts was the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game, which garnered an audience of 41.85 million, while the Thanksgiving clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders was watched by 37.84 million viewers. CBS said that this was the most-watched regular season NFL game since 1990 across all networks.

Sports events dominated the list of most popular broadcasts, accounting for 95 of the top 100. This marks an increase from 92 in 2019, and just 75 in 2020. The Tokyo Olympics made up 11 of the top 100 broadcasts, in comparison to 14 events from the Rio Summer Games in 2016.

Despite the prominence of sporting events on the list, none of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) or National Hockey League’s (NHL) broadcasts made the top 100.

For a second successive year, no broadcasts from the NBA finals or MLB’s World Series featured on the list, with the Kentucky Derby also failing to break the top 100 again.

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