The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Vizio says sports programming dominated fall TV viewership

LP Field (now Nissan Stadium) as it appeared in 2009. (Photo by Casey Fleser via Flickr, Wikimedia Commons)
LP Field (now Nissan Stadium) as it appeared in 2009. (Photo by Casey Fleser via Flickr, Wikimedia Commons)

More people tuned in to live sports and related programming on smart TV sets during autumn than any other type of programming, according to new data released by Vizio.

The data came from more than 20 million smart TV sets that are measured by Vizio — including its own SmartCast TV sets, of which it has more than 16 million active users — that are opted-in to share viewership data with the electronics firm.

According to Vizio, the National Football League (NFL) had 6 percent of all linear TV minutes measured from September 1 to November 21, 2022, while college football had just over 4.5 percent of measured minutes. Major League Baseball (MLB) programming was in third place with just over 1 percent of all total live minutes measured.

The data was released by Vizio Inscape, the company’s data measurement arm, and TV ad measurement firm It was first published in the December 2022 edition of Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

According to Vizio Insight and iSpot.TV, the most-watched content on linear television during the fall season was:

  1. National Football League: 5.99%
  2. College football: 4.57%
  3. Major League Baseball: 1.02%
  4. Law & Order, Special Victims Unit: 0.95%
  5. ABC’s Good Morning America: 0.79%
  6. NBC’s Today Show: 0.73%
  7. ESPN’s SportsCenter: 0.67%
  8. Friends: 0.61%
  9. NCIS: 0.53%
  10. Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends: 0.52%

The data revealed that, even with on-demand streaming options available, sports is still a powerful draw for linear content providers like broadcast and cable networks. While the NFL may command a high price for live television rights — broadcasters pay tens of billions of dollars to secure long-term agreements to provide live NFL games across their channels — the outsized viewership for NFL programming compared to its closets professional sports competitor MLB makes it worth pursuing those rights, assuming the networks can capitalize on their investment.

All four major broadcast networks — the Walt Disney Company’s ABC, Comcast’s NBC Universal, Paramount Global’s CBS and Fox Corporation — provide some kind of live NFL programming during the regular- and post-season.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).