The people have spoken and the NFL is in big trouble. The Sunday Night Football battle between two top teams both with huge national followings was a dud.
It was not meant to be – the Rams and the Cowboys were supposed to bring the NFL back to rating prominence but people are just fed up politics in sports.
The ratings for NBC’s Sunday night game tanked nearly 30% from last year continuing the rating slump for this once a must-watch league.
Even with the usual rating gold of Jerry Jones’ team on the field, the NFL and NBC didn’t get that win – at least not in the early numbers. Despite two teams with big national followings, SNF snared a 4.7 in early ratings among adults 18-49 and 14.81 million viewers last night.
In numbers certain to change, that’s a fall of 28% in the demo and a hard decline of 23% in sets of eyeballs from the early numbers of the September 8, 2019, SNF season debut. While the early Nielsen data lacks West Coast numbers — kind of important when you have a team from the Los Angeles market in the mix — his result is going to be a hard pill for the NFL and NBC to swallow.
To add further context, last year’s opener, a 33-3 pummeling of the Pittsburgh Steelers by then reigning Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots, went on to pull in an audience of 22.2 million on NBC, which was pretty much even with SNF’s 2018 season premiere. That 2019 figure inched up to 22.7 million when digital platform viewing was added in.
At this point, last night’s SNF is down nearly 10% in both the key demo and in viewers from the early results of the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Houston Texans in the league’s season opener Thursday night.
Down double digits from its 2019 equivalent, that primetime game at Arrowhead Stadium did have a scattering of fans (just over 17,000 in a venue built for more than 76,000) and strong social justice and anti-racism messages from the league and players – which was tragically booed by said fans. In what may be indicative of where the Roger Goodell-led NFL is already drifting, last night’s SNF was much more subdued in its stance over such issues and saw only a few players take a knee during the national anthem.