Mediaweek reports that our fondness for watching NFL on the tube is even greater than last year:
Through the first four weeks of the season, ESPN'shas shown the biggest ratings bump, averaging 13 million viewers per telecast, up 20 percent versus last season. NBC's is averaging 17.8 million viewers, up 4 percent. For all its Sunday games, national and regional, CBS is averaging 15.8 million viewers, up 3 percent, while Fox is averaging 15.2 million for all games, up 1 percent.
For Sunday national games, CBS is averaging 22.2 million viewers, up 20 percent. Fox is averaging 21.1 million, up 6 percent.
A major driver: the Dallas Cowboys, the so-called "America's Team." The Dallas games (two through the first four weeks of the season on Fox, one on NBC and one on ESPN) are averaging 20.7 million viewers. Dallas' Sept. 21 win over the Green Bay Packers on NBC recorded the most viewers for an NFL game telecast this season, with 22.2 million. Dallas' thrilling Monday night victory over the Philadelphia Eagles drew 18.6 million viewers, the largest audience ever for a cable program.
Tom Brady's absence hasn't crushed the ratings so far. The "so-called America's Team" won't be on in primetime again (other than overrun) until November 16, when the Cowboys face the Washington Redskins on NBC's. The peacocks also have the New York Giants vs. the Cowboys in Dallas on December 14.