The Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears did battle on “Monday Night Football” Week 7. It was a game between NFL Playoff hopefuls. Unfortunately, as has been the case all season, NFL ratings for said game was down from a season ago.
It’s been a continuing theme and a big story around the football world. NFL ratings at a time of political divisiveness stemming from the national anthem protests.
With the presidential election between Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) now less than a week away, rhetoric is at a near all-time high. That’s obviously impacted NFL ratings this season.
Related: NFL TV ratings
NFL ratings: Bears-Rams “Monday Night Football” matchup down again
“Bears-Rams averaged 10.50 million on ESPN’s Monday Night Football — down 3% from last year (Patriots-Jets: 10.84M) but up 2% from 2018 (Giants-Falcons: 10.33M). MNF viewership has now declined for four straight weeks, though in two of those weeks the series had to contend with a postponed game on another network,” Sports Media Watch noted.
This has also bled over to NFL ratings for “Sunday Night Football.”
- Sunday Night Football, Week 6: The least-watched SNF game of the NFL season, 12.6 million watched the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
- SNF, Week 5: 15.08 million viewers for Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks.
- SNF, Week 4: 15.08 million viewers for Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers, 11.71 million early.
- SNF, Week 3: 16.57 million for Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints.
- SNF, Week 2: 17.69 million viewers for New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, steep decline from 2019.
- SNF, Week 1: 18.94 million viewers for Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams, huge drop from 2019 SNF opener.
Sure the Week 7 “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Cardinals and Seahawks blasted the World Series in terms of TV ratings, but this has been a consistent issue throughout the 2020 NFL season.
Related: NFL Week 8 schedule, predictions
NFL ratings and President Trump
There’s an obvious backdrop to all of this. Regardless of whether Trump is reelected next week, those who back the president have seemingly taken to his call to boycott the NFL. It also comes with the league pushing back big time while supporting both the Black Lives Matter movement and ongoing protests around the United States.
Immediately after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers, players demanded that the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell take action. In turn, Goodell showed his support for the BLM movement and admitted that the NFL mishandled the Colin Kaepernick-led national anthem protests back in 2016.
As for those on the NFL field, it’s been one common core message.
- Before the NFL Kickoff Game, the Houston Texans protested during the national anthem. The Texans and Kansas City Chiefs also took part in a moment of unity.
- The Minnesota Vikings hosted the family of George Floyd and the team donated $5 million to social justice causes.
- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended player protests, saying they “want America to be great.”
- Before the first “Monday Night Football” game in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers held a banner in protest during the anthem.
This also comes after a drama-filled NBA season concluded in Orlando earlier in October. Suspended since back in March, said season resumed with the backdrop of widespread national anthem protests. That included teams taking a knee during the anthem and multiple days of NBA Playoff action being postponed due to a boycott following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
NFL ratings: What to look for moving forward this season
All of this has also had a major impact on NFL ratings. Monday night’s game between the Bears and Rams adds yet another layer to the whole thing.
As for the politics of it all, this won’t die down even if Trump loses the election. His supporters have made it clear where they stand on the national anthem protests. Said beliefs are not simply going to change overnight.
As the NFL season heads to its midway point, there’s going to be some huge nationally televised primetime games. That includes the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers going up against one another on “Thursday Night Football” Week 9, two days after the election is held. We should know more at that point how the election and political divisiveness has impacted NFL ratings.