Roger Goodell says NFL still has top events despite ratings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league despite a drop in television ratings by saying that NFL games accounted for 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows in 2017.

"We always want ratings to go up, but we're 37 of the top 50 shows, which is higher than ever," Goodell told a small group of reporters shortly before the Jacksonville Jaguars' home playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. "We're likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox -- excuse me on all of television, the Fox Sunday afternoon game. Sunday night, prime time is for the seventh year in a row the No. 1 show. Thursday night football is No. 2.

"I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear."

According to numbers registered by Nielsen, NFL television ratings fell 9.7 percent during the 2017 regular season. That followed the 2016 season in which ratings fell 8 percent. Per the Nielsen numbers, a typical game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people in 2017 than in 2016.

The Nielsen numbers also show that 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows on television in 2017 were football games. NBC's Sunday Night Football and ESPN's Monday Night Football were the most-watched shows every single week in all key male demographics. The NFL and Verizon have partnered to stream in-market and national games. The league also partnered with Amazon to stream 10 Thursday night games this season.

"We always want to figure out how to expand our audiences, and that's why we're doing things with Verizon, we're doing things ... with Amazon," Goodell said. "Those types of things are how we're reaching more consumers and that's a transition and that's something that we're putting a lot of focus on."