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Why Marketers Have 23 Million Reasons (And Counting) To Love Their NFL Alliance

September 29, 2010: There is a reason — or, in this case, more than 23 million reasons — why such companies as Bridgestone, Procter & Gamble, Visa, Campbell and Pepsi pay to have their brands aligned with the National Football League.

Even while CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC and others were unveiling their best of the best new shows of the 2010 Fall Season, a tried-and-true show that hit TV in 1939 dominated the ratings. The NFL had the most-watched national program on TV the week of Sept. 20-26 and NFL games topped the ratings in 27 local markets last week — up from 26 top-ranked NFL markets in “premiere week” last year and 19 in 2008, according to figures released by the NFL.

In addition, ESPN’s Monday Night Football game on Sept. 27 between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers earned a 12.5 household coverage rating, representing an average of 12,482,000 households,  the biggest cable television audience of the year and the fifth most-watched cable program in history among both households and viewers (excluding breaking news).

According to the NFL, the CBS national game on Sept. 26 (a majority of the time airing the Indianapolis Colts at the Denver Broncos) was the most-watched program on TV for the week of Sept. 20-26 with 23.1 million viewers. The NBC Sunday Night Football national game on Sept. 26 in which the New York Jets visited the Miami Dolphins attracted 18.1 million viewers, the fourth most-watch show of the week.

The Top Five also included Dancing with the Stars (ABC/21.1 million), NCIS (CBS/19.4 million) and Dancing with the Stars Results (ABC/18.5 million).

Through the first three weeks of the NFL 2010 season ESPN’s Monday Night Football (four games) is averaging a 10.9 household rating, 10,839,000 households (14,979,000 viewers), increases of 5%. 6% and 7%, respectively, according to ESPN. ESPN’s Monday Night Football games currently rank as the five biggest audiences among households and the four biggest among total viewers for cable television in 2010. The 2009 Monday Night Football season finale (Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears on Dec. 28) previously topped the list for the 2010 calendar with a 12.0 rating, 11,899,000 households and 17,006,000 viewers.

Among the markets where NFL games were No. 1 in the TV ratings for the week of Sept. 20-26 were Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Diego, Dallas, San Francisco and Indianapolis, all of which are among the Top 15 largest markets in the U.S.

Following is the list of 27 NFL markets where football was the top-rated program for the week of Sept. 20-26:

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