NFL Opening Game Ratings Down Eight Percent, Lowest Since 2009

Nick Kangadis | September 7, 2018
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The NFL has a severe image problem. In the past couple years the NFL has seen its ratings decline, fans be divided and a good portion have boycotted the league altogether.

If Thursday night’s opening game of the NFL season between the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the visiting Atlanta Falcons is any indication, the league is in for more ratings trouble than they could have imagined.

Ratings for the game, whose only competition came from CBS’ “Big Brother” and coverage of a President Trump rally in Billings, Mont., were down eight percent from the NFL opening game last year.

According to Deadline Hollywood:

With a 13.4/5 in the metered markets, the post-midnight ending game is down 8% from last year’s kickoff of September 7, 2017. In one of the lowest season openers ratingswise and facing portions of a cable news-covered rally by a very NFL critical President Donald Trump, last night’s game is not only down from last year, but 2016, 2015 and 2014 – all of which saw successive declines.

To add more injury to that, the 2017 8:42 PM ET-starting season opener between the victorious Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots ended up with a weak 7.7/29 rating among adults 18-49 and 21.8 million viewers. That was a double digit decline from 2016 and the worst total audience an opening game had since 2009.

So, if last year’s opening game was “the worst total audience an opening game had since 2009,” then that would make this year’s opening game’s rating the new lowest since 2009.

Besides the anthem protest controversy that the NFL perceivably can’t make a decision on, it probably doesn’t help that the company who makes all of the NFL’s jerseys, Nike, came out a few days before the season began with a highly controversial and polarizing ad featuring unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick. All of that combined with people “cutting the cord” at a higher and higher rate, doesn’t make for a very good ratings forecast for the NFL.

In case you care, the Eagles defeated the Falcons by a score of 18-12.