NFL Live Delivers Its Best Audience in Five Years as All ESPN NFL Studio Shows Increase Their 2021 Audiences from the 2020 Season


NFL Live Delivers Its Best Audience in Five Years as All ESPN NFL Studio Shows Increase Their 2021 Audiences from the 2020 Season

  • NFL Live Up 30% Year-Over-Year; December and November Audiences were Show’s Best Two Individual Months in Three Years 
  • Monday Night Countdown Audience Jumps 17% from 2020 
  • Sunday NFL Countdown Viewership Remains Strong, Grows; NFL Rewind Increases Too 
  • NFL PrimeTime Delivers on ESPN+

The 2021 regular season was a banner year for ESPN’s NFL studio shows, as all Nielsen-rated shows — NFL Live, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and NFL Rewind — all increased their audience year-over-year and fueled Monday Night Football to an 11-year viewership high. Additionally, on ESPN+, NFL PrimeTime led the way among original studio programming. The studio shows success was continuous throughout the regular season, first documented in Week 7  and then again in Week 13.

NFL Live (Weekdays, 4 p.m. ET) registered the show’s best audience in five years (2016 season) and delivered back-to-back months of multi-year viewership highs in the process as the show completes its second regular season with its current commentator lineup.

The entertaining commentary and news daily show finished the regular season averaging 425,000 viewers an episode, including averaging 457,000 viewers in December and 439,000 viewers in November.  For the season, the 425,000 viewers is up 30% from 2020 season and 20% from the 2019 season. For the aforementioned final two months of 2020, both months were the show’s two best monthly audience since December of 2018, resulting in back-to-back months delivering the show’s highest monthly audience in the previous 35 months.

Additional NFL Live highlights:

  • Up 7% from 2018 season and 5% from 2017 season
  • Up at least 12% in all key demos, including Persons 25-34 (17%), Persons 18-49 (15%), Persons 25-54 (18%) and Females (20%).
  • Show recorded a season-high viewership of 635,000 viewers on December 17.

Monday Night Countdown (Mondays, 6-8 p.m.) jumped its audience 23% this season, increasing its viewership to 1,493,000 viewers a show. More impressively, the show increased its audience in every demo including Persons 12- 17 (32%), Persons 25-34 (19%), Persons 18-49 (19%), Persons 25-54 (21%) and Females (23%).  The show’s regular time slot high point came ahead of the Bears-Steelers matchup (Nov. 8), when it registered 1.8 million viewers.

Sunday NFL Countdown (Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.), the network’s three hour weekly pregame show, finished the regular season with an average viewership of 1,157,000 viewers a show, up from the show’s 2020 audience. The three-hour pregame show increased the key Persons 25-34 demo by 3%.

NFL Rewind (Mondays, 3-4 p.m.) averaged 369,000 viewers, increasing its audience by 3%. The weekly recap show lead into NFL Live each Monday, serving as a jumping off point for ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage.

Additionally, NFL PrimeTime (Sundays, 7:30 p.m. and on-demand) was the top original studio program on ESPN+ during the season.

Note: Studio data for this season following Labor Day, heading into Week 1 and continuing through the conclusion of the regular season on January 9, 2022; previous year data follows similar 17 week regular season period;
Sunday NFL Countdown excludes Oct. 10 and 17 edition when the show had NFL game competition; MNC 2020’s figure does include episodes where it had game competition on Dec. 20 and also first edition on Saturday, Jan. 8; NFL Live viewership includes shows on ESPN only; ESPN+ viewership not factored into year-over-year superlatives because it is not Nielsen rated.


Contact: Derek Volner ([email protected])



Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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