The war over the NFL Anthem protests has become a ratings game.
After Trump initially waded into the controversy, many wondered how fans would react, particularly those fans who support Trump and despise players kneeling for the anthem. After mass anthem protests occurred on Sunday, the NFL received bad news. According to previous IJR reporting, the ratings were historically bad.
In metered market numbers, the primetime match-up between the 27-10 winning Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders snared an 11.6/20.
The worst Sunday Night Football has performed this season so far, that’s an 8% dip from the early numbers of last week’s Atlanta Falcon’s 34-23 win over the Green Bay Packers. Gaining cheers and boos from fans at FedEx Field in Maryland last night, the third week of SNF for the 2017-2018 season declined 10% from early numbers of the comparable game of last year on September 25, 2016.
Last night’s Sunday Night Football peaked with a 12.5/20 during the second quarter at 9 – 9:30 PM ET. Not that such a number can feel good to the NFL with ratings down double-digits this season so far after taking a similar tackle last year.
The low ratings report was accompanied by many fans furiously burning NFL paraphernalia and Donald Trump tweeting about how poorly the NFL ratings were performing:
Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
On Monday Night Football, the protests were taken to a new and unique level. The owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, joined his team in kneeling before the anthem. Jones had previously been very vocal about his beliefs on protesting the national anthem. When the anthem actually played, both the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals stood arm-in-arm.
The ratings are in after the demonstration which stunned many. Fans who wish to boycott Monday Night Football will be disappointed. The ratings for last night’s Monday Night Football are season-high.
According to NBC:
Last night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game was easily the most-watched Monday night game of the season so far, and through four games Monday Night Football ratings are up over last season.
Cowboys-Cardinals got a 9.3 overnight rating for ESPN, easily the highest-rated Monday night game of the year. That came despite some talk that the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem would depress NFL ratings.
Monday Night Football is up year to date over the 2016 average.
While the anthem protest might have spiked ratings, the trend towards NFL viewership does seem to point downward.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
Sunday afternoon NFL games averaged 16.04 million viewers for the first two weeks of this season, down 11 percent from the 18.1 million people who watched during the same period last year, the Nielsen company said. There was little change for NBC’s first two Sunday night games: 22.2 million this year, down slightly from 22.9 million in 2016. For the first three “Monday Night Football” games shown on ESPN, viewership slipped 5 percent from the 11.79 million last year to 11.23 million this year, Nielsen said.