NFL Ratings Down Nationally in Wake of Protests, But Up Locally

Donald Trump Urges Fans to Boycott NFL in Ongoing Criticism of Flag-Kneeling Players

Last year, Reuters reports the week 3 matchup between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys produced a 12.9 rating nationally.

Here in the Stateline, preliminary ratings indicate that National Football League viewership is up.

NBC's ratings for the National Football League game between the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins on Sunday night were slightly down from a popular week three match-up last season, although it was not known if this was linked to a controversy over NFL player protests during the US national anthem. It's an 8% dip from the early numbers of last week's game, Atlanta's 34-23 win over Green Bay.

The decrease mirrors a trend of down ratings for the National Football League as a whole nationally through the first three weeks of the season.

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Week 3's average rating/share was 11.9/25. But Week 3 ratings are expected to be up overall once the ratings for Monday night's Cowboys-Cardinals game is factored into the equation. This week's game also posted lower initial ratings than weeks one and two, NBC said.

The networks saw huge boosts for their pregame shows, though. The show's finale last week was seen by 15.6 million viewers, its biggest audience for a season-ender since 2010. To make matters worse, Week 2 kicked off with a monotonous Thursday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans, a clash which culminated in a 13-10 slog. Both networks tackled the political news of the weekend.

The president suggests that the national anthem protests pioneered by Colin Kaepernick has played a role in declining ratings. That wasn't the case this past Sunday, as the growing protest of players to President Trump's tweets made the anthem newsworthy. "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!" Forbes notes that the rise of internet streaming likely accounts for the NFL's declining cable ratings, compounded more recently by the spate of hurricanes that have hit the south and east coasts.

Fox, CBS, and NBC all broadcast the national anthem live during football games Sunday - a notable shift away from their usual practice. CBS' string of shared Thursday Night Football games starts September 28 after several weekends of smaller performances airing exclusively on the NFL Network.

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