NFL opener on NBC draws 16.4 million, down 16 percent from 2019
The NFL prime-time opener on Thursday night aired on NBC drew fewer viewers than the previous year.
The league’s opening game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans saw 16.4 million tuning in via television on Thursday night.
The preliminary ratings from Nielsen Media Research marked a 16.1 percent drop from 2019’s opening night game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
The 34-20 Chiefs victory included socially-distanced fans at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
It also featured opposing players linking hands in a “show of unity” before the game that was booed by some in attendance.
Sports ratings in other leagues have also taken a dive despite more people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ratings for the first round of the NBA playoffs, for example, saw a 27 percent drop when compared to 2019 and 40 percent when compared to two years ago.
In a new Harris poll released Wednesday, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they were watching less basketball because “the league has become too political.”
The preliminary ratings and poll numbers come as professional athletes in several leagues, including the NFL and the NBA, have taken a stand against racial injustice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Various professional sports teams have shown their support by participating in field walk-offs, wearing Black Lives Matter jerseys, taking a knee during the national anthem or refusing to play altogether.
President Trump has also noticed the decline in ratings, and took to social media to blame the league and its players for becoming “highly political.”
People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back. I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
American sports fans are also seeing more options for mid-September than ever before.
In addition to Texans-Chiefs, Thursday night television also had offerings including a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets in the NBA playoffs, the U.S. Open tennis semifinal featuring Serena Williams, a Dallas Stars-Las Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup conference final match-up and local Major League Baseball telecasts.
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