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Notes: Detroit Lions game was 10th most-watched TV broadcast in 2022

When the Lions got the national spotlight, viewers paid attention.

Detroit Lions vs Buffalo Bills Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It comes as no surprise to Lions fans that this year’s playoff-chasing team is a joy to watch, but it looks like the rest of country has caught on. As everyone reading this site is aware of, the league moved the regular season finale between the Packers and Lions for a possible Wild Card berth to prime time on Sunday night.

That move looks like a really good one because the last time the Lions played a major opponent on national television, they drew really well. Sportico’s Anthony Crupi wrote an article (subscription required) using Nielsen’s live + same day data explaining how NFL broadcasts dominate the “most-watched” programming landscape these days. In accompanying graphs provided by Sportico on social media, it turns out the Lions on Thanksgiving Day was a top 10 event on television in 2022:

The Lions’ turkey day game against the highly-regarded Bills beat several playoff games from the last postseason, and even drew more viewers than the Packers’ overtime win against the Cowboys in a (more or less) nationally televised game (Week 10, 13th on this list).

How dominant is the NFL when it comes to live television viewership? None of the other three major professional leagues had even a single event among the top 100 places in the Nielsen data. The disparity in viewership and media rights value is incredible:

According to Lev Akabas from Sportico, Game 6 of the NBA Finals barely missed the top 100 and no NBA game has made the top 100 since 2019. In the last four years, the top four events were all Super Bowls, and the only non-sports items on the 2022 top 100 list are either the Academy Awards, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, or a handful of news events of a historic nature.

If you’re curious about week-by-week data, there is a pretty cool page maintained by Sports Media Watch that has viewership highlights from each week summarized separately. Thanksgiving is part of Week 12, but another one of note is the Lions-Giants game in Week 11.

Rookie Aidan Hutchinson wants the Lions to be regarded as a “prime-time team” and this is one step to getting there. At least for now, it looks like everybody wants to watch the Lions, so the league is giving the people what they want! With that, let’s get to the rest of your weekend Notes:

  • Not bad!

  • In case you missed it, there’s lots of analysis from Erik you can get heading into this weekend’s game. The Week 18 preview episode of the Detroit Lions Breakdown podcast co-hosted by Joe Kania and Erik Schlitt is up on the podcast’s website, so check that out.

He was also a guest on Anthony Bellino’s X’s and BrO’s show on Friday. The segment is available for viewing (Erik’s only on by audio though) on the stream recording on YouTube.

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