The big one for a lot of people who follow these sorts of things and view TV ratings as a barometer for overall fan interest is the first Sunday Night NFL game of the year on NBC.
Just over 20 million people tuned in this season, down 18% from a year ago in the same time slot.
Not great, but still 20 million people is a tremendous rating for a regular season sporting event.
The first game of the season also broadcasted on NBC airing Thursday, September 8th drew at 16.5 overnight rating, which in terms of ratings is still really good, but down 7% from a year ago when the Steelers and Patriots played.
But the total number of viewers? 25.2 million.
That’s huge and the NFL has nothing to worry about just yet.
By comparison, Major League Baseball averaged just over 14 million for last year’s Mets-Royals World Series, and that was the highest rating in six years for the World Series.
That said 7% is not huge and not as meaningful considering about 14 years ago in 2002 the kickoff game scored a 12.2 rating, per Sports TV Ratings.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football was down as well, for the early game down 7% and the late game between the Los Angeles Rams and 49ers drew 25% less viewers compared to the second game of last year’s first Monday Night Football coverage on ESPN.
Overall, the NFL has lots of wiggle room to work with and probably is not concerned that it’s opening weekend in the second week of what is a busy September with good weather across the country-will turn the tides back to grossly huge numbers.
The Achilles heel for the NFL is not the lack of interest but perhaps a turn off by viewers at large for off the field incidents which continue to plague the league and keep league officials up at night. Further it’s yet to be decided what impact the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the singing of the National Anthem will do for the league in terms of viewership and fanship and the like.