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Nielsen: NFL Draws TV-like Numbers on Radio, Outperforming Entire Markets.


New data from Nielsen shows that NFL games broadcast on the radio attract audiences so large that they outperform the top-rated stations in many markets. With the success of football broadcasts mostly focused on TV, where they consistently occupy the majority of top-rated programs, a change in thinking about how radio is measured – which is by daypart, as opposed to program-focused TV – would show similar dominance by the audio broadcasts of games.


Looking at full-season data from the 2022 NFL season, the New England Patriots radio network, anchored by Beasley Media Group’s “98.5 The Sports Hub” WBZ-FM Boston, averaged a 23.9 share in the Persons 25-54 demo during the season. During that same time frame, Audacy AC “Magic 106.7” WMJX, a regular top ranker in the market, posted a 7.6 share.


AQH ratings for Persons 25-54 also show a superior performance for Patriots football broadcasts, which lead the market with a 0.9 rating, compared to iHeartMedia CHR “Kiss 108” WXHS (0.3), over the course of the 2022 season.


Nielsen used the Patriots 2022 season, one in which the team finished with an average record and one game below .500, for the study. Another team with a similar record in 2022, and as strong a fan base as the Patriots is the Pittsburgh Steelers.


According to Nielsen, the Steelers Men 25-54 AQH rating that was bigger than all of the next eleven largest stations. This equates to a 40% share in the demo over the course of the season. When comparing ratings for Steelers games vs. Pittsburgh morning drive radio shows, the play-by-play broadcasts command a 58% higher rating than the closest competitor.


Steelers broadcasts have a 1.9 Men 25-54 AQH rating, compared to Randy Baumann on iHeartMedia classic rock WDVE (102.5), who has a 1.1 AQH rating. Either way, it’s good news for WDVE, which along with sports sister WBGG (970), carries Steelers football.


Nielsen also looked at data from the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs season, which ended with the team hoisting the Lombardi trophy at midfield of State Farm Stadium in Arizona in February. The Super Bowl Champions average a whopping 39.8 share among Persons 18-49 across the season. Its closest competitor over this time frame, Steel City Media AC KCKC (102.1) posted a 6.8.


In the Men 25-54 demo, Chiefs broadcasts averaged a 46.1 share over the season, with many games exceeding a 50% share, Nielsen says.


Looking at Chiefs broadcasts vs. morning shows, the team posted a 1.9 AQH rating, nearly a full point more than Cumulus Media rock KQRC (98.9) in the Men 25-54 demo.


“While these examples are far from a complete analysis of the NFL games on the radio, it does shed light on the dominance of the NFL on radio,” John Snyder, Nielsen Senior VP/Sales Director says. “Just because a fan can’t be staring into a screen during game time doesn’t mean he or she isn’t following along. And if broadcast radio pivoted to selling shows rather than dayparts, it's a safe bet that like TV, the top-rated shows would largely consist of play-by-play broadcasts.”

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