NFL television ratings were exceptional during the 2018 regular season, which might have surprised some among us given the well-documented tumult of the ’17 season.
Patriots ratings in the Boston market also were exceptional, which should have surprised no one.
First, the local angle.
Per Nielsen Media Research, the Patriots earned a 35.0 average household rating in 2018, meaning that 35 percent of the televisions in the market (in or out of use) were tuned in to the games when they were playing.
That’s a massive number, but one that is right in the range of where they usually have been at season’s end during the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. This year’s ratings were up 4 percent over last year. The 35.0 was the highest average rating since 2015, when they averaged a 39.9.
Patriots broadcasts were the highest-rated program in the market for 15 of the 16 weeks they played. Their Week 8 victory over the Bills on “Monday Night Football’’ drew a 37.3 rating, which was second that week to a certain other sporting event of some local interest: The Red Sox’ World Series-clinching Game 5 victory over the Dodgers on Oct. 28 drew a 43.2 rating.
For what it’s worth, the Patriots’ lowest-rated game of the season locally was the Week 3 matchup with the Lions on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,’’ which drew a 30.1.
Naturally, the Patriots were also a draw nationally. The highest-rated game of the NFL season was their Week 15 loss to the Steelers, which aired in the 4:25 p.m. window on CBS. That game earned a 16.5 nationwide, and was also their highest-rated game locally, with a 41.9.
Overall, NFL ratings were up 5 percent over last year, with national broadcasts (the Sunday windows plus the assorted prime-time games) averaging a 9.1 household rating. The most-watched window was not one in prime time, but the 4:25 p.m. window on Fox. That network, incidentally, saw its first gain in overall NFL ratings since 2013.
Radio deal extended
Those who listen to Patriots games on the radio won’t have to change their preset stations anytime soon. The Patriots and Beasley Media Group announced Thursday that they’ve agreed on a multiyear extension that will keep 98.5 The Sports Hub as the team’s radio home for the foreseeable future.
Terms were not disclosed.
The last time the Patriots announced a broadcast partnership extension was in September 2017, when The Sports Hub was still owned by CBS Radio. Beasley bought The Sports Hub in November 2017 after CBS Radio’s merger with Entercom Communications, which owns Boston’s other major sports radio station, WEEI-FM (93.7).
The Sports Hub has been the Patriots’ flagship station since its inception as a sports radio station in 2009. CBS Radio had served as the flagship radio partner of the Patriots since 1994 when the games aired on WBZ-AM (1030), before transitioning to WBCN-FM (104.1) in 1995.