For the first time since the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Rams will not be playing on Sunday Night Football. In fact, the Rams are only scheduled to play two primetime games in 2023 which is also the fewest since Sean McVay’s first year.
In 2017, the Rams played just one game in primetime, and that was an early season matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, the Rams have had five straight years of five games scheduled in primetime.
The Rams had more primetime games in 2016 which was their first season in LA However, the Rams also weren’t an exciting brand of football under Jeff Fisher. That season, the Rams played on Monday Night against the 49ers, had a Thursday Night game against the Seattle Seahawks, and played the New York Giants in London in an early morning primetime game.
Not playing in primetime was par for the course when the Rams were in St. Louis, especially during the decade plus of losing football. That hasn’t been the case since they moved back to Los Angeles.
This year, the Rams will play the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 3 and then don’t play on primetime again until Week 16 when they play on Thursday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.
Coming off of a 5-12 season, the Rams shouldn’t have been expected to have five primetime games for a sixth consecutive year. They lost a lot of their star power this offseason. However, this is still Los Angeles, Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald. They have games on the schedule against big market teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants. That doesn't mention no primetime game against a division rival like the San Francisco 49ers.
The Rams have become one of the biggest brands in the NFL over the past five seasons. According to Sportico, the Rams played in the 25th, 28th, 32nd, 35th, 45th, and 48th most watched U.S. TV broadcasts. That’s six games in the top-50 and that doesn't include their four playoff games early in the calendar year. The Rams Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals averaged 112.2 million viewers which was the highest for a Super Bowl in five years according to NFL.com.
The Rams-Chiefs game last season with Bryce Perkins at quarterback clocked in at 32. The Week 8 matchup between the Rams and 49ers came in at 25.
Last season’s game against the Dallas Cowboys featuring Cooper Rush at quarterback last season drew 24.3M average viewers, ranking 28th among most-viewed broadcasts in 2022. It was also the 10-most viewed regular season game. The Cowboys are always going to draw viewers. However, the Rams haven’t played on Thanksgiving since 1975 which is the longest drought in the NFL. This year would have been a perfect opportunity to end that drought.
Given the numbers over the 2022 calendar year, the Rams simply brought in viewers. It says a lot when many of the broadcasts came during last season when the Rams weren’t very good. That speaks very highly of the Rams overall brand.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams in some of the national broadcasts on Sunday and in the number one slot for networks such as FOX and CBS, especially if they surprise and are better than expected. The games mentioned above will be certainly be prime candidates for those slots.
Coming off of a down-year, the Rams shouldn’t have been in five primetime slots once again. With that said, three or even four seemed like a good sweet spot. If the Rams can bounce back in 2023 and show some promise heading into 2024, there’s no doubt they’ll be back and heavily included in the NFL’s primetime games.