There is no debating the National Football League's dominance in terms of popularity, especially in the United States. The 'Shield' is not only the most followed sport in the country, but also the most watched.
The website www.sportsmediawatch.com compiled a top 50 most watched sporting events of 2014 so far, and the list just hammers home the NFL's ever expanding audience. The article ranked events based on P2 viewership, which is the average viewership-per-minute for a program.
The top eight and 12 of the first 13 games on the list are NFL matchups, with the aforementioned Super Bowl leading the way. That contest, featuring the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, scored a 46.7 rating with 112 million viewers. Not only was that game the highest rated sports program of the year, but it nearly doubled the rating for the matchup in second place, the NFC Championship (Seattle-San Francisco) game.
Only the Olympic opening ceremonies could stop the NFL from having the top 13 overall broadcasts. For comparison's sake, the Olympics opener had a 17.0 rating and was seen by just over 31 million people.
In addition to the Olympics, the NFL also faced international competition with this year's World Cup. While the soccer event captivated the globe, its highest rated match, the final between Argentina and Germany, had 'just' 26.5 million viewers domestically. The AFC wild card matchup between Kansas City and Indianapolis out did that total, scoring 27.5 million.
College football, which many would argue is the second most popular sport in the country, had just one game rank in the top 15. The National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn came in the 15th spot, turning out a 14.8 rating and 26 million viewers.
The list is interesting to scroll through and is a variable 'who's who' of sporting events. In that top 50 you'll find the NFL, Olympics, NBA, horse racing and college football and basketball. One interesting omission was Major League Baseball, which didn't have any representatives on the list. That said, playoff games are usually the highest ranked in all sports, and the MLB has yet to hit their postseason.
With the 2014 NFL season upcoming, it will be fun to follow and see which games from this year crack the list by the end of 2014. The NFL owning this list is nothing new, as the 2013 version saw the league have 46 of the top 50 events.
A list of the top 10 most watched games is below.
1 NFL Seahawks/Broncos Super Bowl 48 FOX 46.7 112.19M
2 NFL Seahawks/49ers NFC Championship FOX 28.5 55.91M
3 NFL Patriots/Broncos AFC Championship CBS 28.1 51.30M
4 NFL 49ers/Packers NFC Wild Card FOX 25.8 47.10M
5 NFL Chargers/Broncos AFC Divisional CBS 23.1 41.21M
6 NFL Saints/Eagles NFC Wild Card NBC 19.1 34.36M
7 NFL 49ers/Panthers NFC Divisional FOX 19.9 33.30M
8 NFL Colts/Patriots AFC Divisional CBS 17.8 31.69M
9 Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC 17.0 31.69M
10 NFL Saints/Seahawks NFC Divisional FOX 18.1 31.10M