The 2014 NFL season had it all. Close games, come-from-behind victories and record-breaking performances had fans tuning into NFL games. According to The Nielsen Company, the 2014 regular season reached 202.3 million unique viewers, representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68% percent of potential viewers in the U.S.

The 2014 NFL Regular Season averaged 17.6 million viewers per game telecast, making it the second most-watched season ever behind the 2010 season (17.9 million).

NFL games accounted for the top 20 and 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming last fall (chart below).

Five NFL game telecasts this season were watched by at least 29 million viewers, up from just one in the 2013 season.

For the third consecutive year, an NFL game was the week’s most-watched TV show in all 17 weeks of the season. In addition, at least two NFL games were the week’s most-watched TV shows in 16 weeks of the season.

NFL games on broadcast television nearly tripled broadcast primetime viewership. NFL games on CBS, FOX and NBC averaged 19.2 million viewers – 162% percent higher than the average primetime viewership among the four major over-the-air networks (7.4 million average on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC).

Over the past decade, average viewership of NFL games on broadcast television has increased 25% from 15.4 million in 2004 to 19.2 million in 2014.

More 2014 NFL TV highlights:

· NBC’s Sunday Night Football ranked as the most-watched primetime program for the fifth consecutive fall season averaging 21.3 million viewers. The Week 15 Sunday Night Football game on NBC (Cowboys-Eagles) was the most-watched primetime game of the season with an average of 24.3 million viewers.

In its first year simulcast on CBS and NFL Network, Thursday Night Football saw huge gains, with total viewership up 53% from last season and 69% since 2012.

· FOX’s Thanksgiving Day Game (Eagles-Cowboys) was the most-watched show of the fall season with 32.0 million viewers and the 2014 Thanksgiving Day average of 28.4 million viewers was the highest Thanksgiving Day average since 1998 (29.7 million for Steelers-Lions and Vikings-Cowboys).

· The Week 8 Redskins-Cowboys game on ESPN averaged 18.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched Monday Night Football game since 2010 and the fourth most-watched Monday Night Football game on ESPN of all time.

· NFL games accounted for the top 38 and 48 of the 50 most-watched telecasts (since September  4) among adults aged 18-49 – with CBS, FOX, ESPN and NBC each represented on that list.

For the season, NFL games rank as the 20 most-watched and 45 of the top 50 TV shows since Labor Day. Following are the most-watched programs this fall:

Program – Viewers
1. FOX Thanksgiving Day (Eagles-Cowboys), 11/27 – 32.0 million
2. CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Packers), 11/30 – 30.9 million
3. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Seahawks), 10/12 – 30 million
4. CBS Thanksgiving Day (Bears-Lions), 11/27 – 29.4 million
5. CBS Sunday National (mostly Broncos-Patriots), 11/2 – 29.1 million
6. FOX Sunday National (mostly Lions-Packers), 12/28 – 28.5 million
7. FOX Sunday National (mostly 49ers-Cowboys), 9/7 – 28.1 million
8. CBS Sunday National (mostly Broncos-Seahawks), 9/21 – 27.3 million
9. NBC Thursday Night Kickoff Game (Packers-Seahawks), 9/4 – 27.1 million
10. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Cowboys), 10/19 – 27 million
11. FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-Packers), 11/16 – 26.5 million
12. FOX Sunday National (mostly 49ers-Seahawks), 12/14 – 26.5 million
13. CBS Sunday National (mostly Dolphins at Broncos), 11/23 – 26.4 million
14. FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-Seahawks), 12/7 – 25.9 million
15. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Cowboys), 12/21 – 25.9 million
16. FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-49ers), 9/28 – 25.9 million
17. CBS Sunday National (mostly Chiefs-Broncos), 9/14 – 25 million
18. NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Eagles), 12/14 – 24.3 million
19. NBC Sunday Night Football (Colts-Broncos), 9/7 – 23.8 million
20. NBC Sunday Night Football (49ers-Broncos), 10/19 – 23.8 million
21. FOX MLB World Series Game 7 – 23.5 million
22. NBC Sunday Night Football (Saints-Cowboys), 9/28 – 23.1 million
23. NBC Thanksgiving Night (Seahawks-49ers), 11/27 – 22.9 million
24. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Seahawks), 11/9 – 22.7 million
25. NBC Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 11/27 – 22.6 million
26. NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Giants), 11/23 – 22.4 million
27. FOX Sunday Single (mostly Cardinals-Cowboys), 11/2 – 22.3 million
28. NBC Sunday Night Football (Bears-49ers), 9/14 – 22.3 million
29. NBC Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Chargers), 12/7 – 21.1 million
30. NBC Sunday Night Football (Broncos-Chiefs), 11/30 – 21.1 million
31. NBC Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Colts), 11/16 – 20.8 million
32. CBS & NFLN Thursday Night Football (Steelers-Ravens), 9/11 – 20.8 million
33. CBS Sunday National (Mostly Colts-Steelers), 10/26 – 20.8 million
34. NBC Sunday Night Football (Bengals-Steelers), 12/28 – 20.7 million
35. FOX Sunday Single (Mostly Lions-Patriots), 11/23 – 20.7 million
36. FOX Sunday Single (mostly Packers-Lions & 49ers-Cardinals), 9/21 – 20.6 million
37. CBS & NFLN Thursday Night Football (Chargers-Broncos), 10/23 – 20.2 million
38. NBC Sunday Night Football (Steelers-Panthers), 9/21 – 19.8 million
39. CBS Sunday National (mostly Chiefs-49ers), 10/5 – 19.7 million
40. NBC Sunday Night Football (Bengals-Patriots), 10/5 – 19.5 million
41. FOX Sunday Single (mostly Seahawks-Chargers & Cowboys-Titans), 9/14 – 19.4 million
42. FOX Sunday Single (mostly Cardinals-Broncos & Falcons-Giants), 10/5 – 19.4 million
43. NBC Sunday Night Football (Seahawks-Cardinals), 12/21 – 19.3 million
44. NCIS, 9/30 – 19.0 million
45. NBC Sunday Night Football (Saints-Packers), 10/26 – 18.8 million
46. ESPN Monday Night Football (Redskins-Cowboys), 10/27 – 18.8 million
47. CBS Sunday Single (mostly Dolphins-Patriots, Steelers-Falcons), 12/14 – 18.7 million
48. NBC Sunday Night Football (Ravens-Steelers), 11/2 – 18.6 million
49. 60 Minutes, 11/30 – 18.4 million
50. NCIS, 9/23 – 18.3 million

In other NFL news…

An average of 37.8 million viewers watched the four Divisional Playoff games last weekend, making it the most-watched NFL Divisional Weekend ever, topping the previous record (36.6 million, 2011).

Sunday afternoon’s Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers matchup on FOX averaged 44.4 million viewers to rank as the second most-watched Divisional game on record (New York Giants-Green Bay Packers, 1/15/12, FOX, 45.1 million) and the most-watched show since Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Indianapolis Colts–Denver Broncos game on CBS drew 41.8 million viewers to rank as the second most-watched AFC Divisional Playoff game since at least 1987 (New York Jets-New England Patriots, 1/16/11, CBS, 43.5 million).

Saturday afternoon’s Baltimore Ravens-New England Patriots game on NBC averaged 34.0 million viewers to rank as the third-most watched Saturday AFC Divisional game on record. The Carolina Panthers-Seattle Seahawks game on FOX rounded out the weekend averaging 31.0 million viewers, the network’s most-watched primetime Saturday NFL Playoff game ever.

Since the 2014 Academy Awards, eight NFL games have accounted for the only programs on television to average at least 30 million viewers – four Divisional playoff games, one Wild Card playoff game and three regular-season games.

Sources: NFL & The Nielsen Company, Fast National Data

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