Just how popular are the Dallas Cowboys?
One way to answer that question is to look at the nation's TV viewing habits. In a blog post published for fivethirtyeight.com, an analytics website belonging to ESPN, Kirk Goldberry compiled the NFL's weekly broadcast schedules to find out which teams we see the most and the least each season.
[The Cowboys] are by far the most broadcast team around the country. Over the past six seasons, they were either the first or second most commonly broadcast team in 95 of just over 200 markets around the U.S.,4 a dominance that appears on the West Coast in markets including Seattle and Los Angeles, and on the East Coast in Jacksonville, Florida, and Greenville, North Carolina.
Between 2009 and 2014, every Nielsen market in the U.S. saw at least an average of nine of the Cowboys’ 16 games each season, by far the most in the league. Just about the only time the Cowboys aren’t dominating the airwaves is during bye weeks like this one.
While the Cowboys dominate the national broadcast scene, networks occasionally also show other teams. Goldberry ranks the 16 most televised teams in the NFL, and surprisingly has the Giants coming in at No. 2 overall. Here's one of the many excellent graphs from Goldberry's article detailing the top 16:
The data here is a powerful reminder of the allure of the Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are perennially the most popular team despite not having won a Super Bowl since 1995, the longest such drought among the top ten most popular teams outside of the Bears (1985) and the Super-Bowl-Disabled Eagles.
The data also showcases the drawing power of the NFC East. The Cowboys and Giants top the ran kings, and the Eagles come in at a respectable No. 6. The Redskins just miss the list at No. 17.
If you're one of those old geezers whose memory dates back to the time before cell phones and the internet were a thing, you may remember a time when the Washington Redskins were still a relevant team in the NFL. The Redskins are still more popular than half of the remaining teams in the league, but compared to their peers in the East, they cannot be happy with this data. But at least they're ranked ahead of the Seahawks. The have arguably been the best team of the past five years, and they still only rank 23rd.
Love 'em or hate 'em, but you can't escape 'em. How 'bout them Cowboys.