NFL Stews Over Flat TV Ratings

NFL Stews Over Flat TV Ratings

A funny thingis happening to those blockbuster, industry-leading audiences for National Football League broadcasts on the biggest networks: They're getting a little smaller. Really.

For the second consecutive season, the NFL, that behemoth of the television business that sucks the air out of everybody else's ratings whenever one of its games takes place, is seeing a slight drop in the number of people who are tuning into its games. Excluding this first full season of Thursday night NFL Network telecasts, NFL games are averaging about 17.4 million viewers per game, down 2% from last year and 3% from 2010.

These numbers can't be explained away by a lousy sample. Through the NFL's first 14 weeks, the winning points have been scored in the final two minutes, or in overtime, 47 times. That ties this season for the most close games to this point since 1970.

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