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Trump knocks NFL over first game's ratings

Trump knocks NFL over first game's ratings
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE in a tweet on Sunday knocked the NFL over lower ratings for its first game of the season.  

"Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison," the president said, referring to last Thursday night's match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. "Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade."

"If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!" he added.

Broadcast viewership for the game dropped by 13 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The game also saw a 61 percent spike in online streaming viewership, the news outlet added.

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Trump renewed his clash with the NFL after it released a statement Tuesday praising former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for raising social justice issues. 

"The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action," NFL's executive vice president of communications and public affairs Jocelyn Moore said in the statement following Nike's decision to feature Kaepernick, who was the first to kneel during the national anthem, in a new ad campaign. 

Kaepernick, who became a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, rose back to national prominence after Nike made him the face of its "Just Do It" ad campaign.

The move has met some controversy, both from the president, conservative legislators and some members of the general public, the majority of whom disapprove of kneeling during the national anthem, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month.

However, online sales also surged following Nike's announcement of the campaign. 

ESPN also reported Sunday that the NFL will not implement a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem this season. 

None of the players in the first NFL game of the season appeared to kneel during the anthem.