TV Ratings: NFL Opening Sunday Takes Small Loss vs. 2019

Tom Brady - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The audience for the NFL's opening slate of Sunday games suffered small declines from a year ago, with Fox's two games improving and CBS and NBC taking hits.

The four broadcast windows — an afternoon doubleheader on Fox, CBS' single afternoon game and NBC's primetime Sunday Night Football — averaged a combined 71.91 million viewers. That's off a scant 3 percent from the same figure for 2019's opening Sunday (74.13 million).

Tom Brady's debut as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers helped Fox score the biggest audience of the weekend: The Bucs' loss to the New Orleans Saints brought in 25.85 million viewers in the late afternoon window, up 8 percent vs. last year. The network's early regional coverage averaged 13.53 million viewers, a 7 percent bump.

Sunday Night Football delivered 18.94 million viewers for NBC, down 15 percent year to year. CBS' regional games (13.59 million) dropped 12 percent.

In primetime Sunday, a sneak peek of The Masked Singer benefited from the football lead-in to score a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, the best non-NFL number of the day, and 5.57 million viewers. CBS' Big Brother (1.1 in 18-49, 4.14 million viewers) had its best Sunday outing of the season, and Love Island (0.5, 1.77 million) also improved.

TLC's 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After continued the franchise's strong run this year, leading all cable programs Sunday with a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo and 3.8 million viewers. An NBA playoff game on ESPN (1.3 million viewers) took a sizable hit airing opposite the NFL.

On Saturday, college football didn't fare nearly as well as the pros did Sunday. ABC's primetime game drew 3.46 million viewers, down more than 30 percent from the network's 2019 average. It came in behind ESPN's primetime NBA telecast (3.72 million).

Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.