12:01pm PT by Michael O'Connell
2015 Was Another Insanely Huge Season for the NFL on TV
Over a year after domestic abuse and concussion scandals first rocked the league, the NFL is strong as ever with U.S. fans.
Both Fox and NBC reported Wednesday that their respective football TV franchises, America's Game of the Week and Sunday Night Football, again rank as TV's most-watched series overall and the most-watched in in primetime — though the latter is tentative.
Sunday Night Football capped off the season as its biggest ever, across all measurements. It averaged 22.5 million viewers and 8.0 rating among adults 18-49. Among total viewers, that's a six percent increase from the 2014 season. But while NBC's weekly football telecast, of course, is primetime's biggest live draw, it will most likely finish the season as No. 2 in the demo to AMC's The Walking Dead. (Barring any significant midseason drop, and thanks to ever-growing live-plus-seven day lifts, the zombie drama is on track to easily hold its 18-49 throne.)
The biggest audience still belongs to Fox. America's Game of the Week capped the season virtually even with last year, taking in an average 26.8 million viewers. Overall, the NFL of Fox averaged a near-best 20.1 million viewers for the season. That only slightly trails the record 21.2 million showing in 2013.
Thursday Night Football, in its second year airing on both CBS and the NFL Network, was also improved — year over year. It took 17.6 million viewers and an average 6.0 rating in the key demo. And, on ESPN, Monday Night Football averaged 12.9 million viewers.
All of the stability and growth leads to the fact that much of the next four weeks will likely be spent debating over whether or not the 2016 Super Bowl will set yet another record for the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history. Last year's Patriots-Seahawks showdown rose to 114.4 million viewers.