The rain that hit the NFL’s first game of the season Thursday night seemed to be an ominous omen – not even God wanted to see the football game played. The ratings confirmed that no one else did either.
The NFL ratings for opening night of the 2018 season – featuring the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons – hit a low not seen in nearly a decade. That’s not a good sign for the league, especially when ratings for all the other major sports are going up.
Of course, the other major sports aren’t having to deal with a national anthem protest controversy. Since Colin Kaepernick began separating the fans down the middle, ratings have begun to tank. Opening night was no exception.
The game started off on a down note, as a rain and lightning delay kept viewers waiting and sent fans in the stadium running for cover. Even so, those who showed up to begin with were far fewer than the audience that showed up just a year ago.
The game pulled in just 19 million viewers, which sounds like a healthy number, but not by the usual NFL standards. The viewership was down 13% from last year’s opening game, a surprising drop for just one year. The ratings overall were the worst since 2009. The NFL ratings trend overall continues to decline by double digits every year.
In fast affiliates, the season opener drew a 6.6/27 among adults 18-49. A drop of 14% from the final demo numbers of the September 7, 2017 game.
When you factor in rising streaming and digital viewership, last night’s audience for current Super Bowl champs the Eagles v. the Falcons drew 19.5 million.
In a rare state of affairs, but maybe not unexpected due to the more than one hour late start of the game because of weather, the match-up peaked very early. About 21.7 million were watching in the 9:30 – 9:45 PM ET slot during the first quarter of what was then a pretty slow game.
The quality of play was pathetic, making for a lackluster first game in a season that desperately needs to win back fans. Things went so badly for the game, played in Philadelphia, Eagles fans actually booed the Super Bowl champs as they left the field for halftime.
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