NFL ratings have been a major backstory through the first five weeks of the 2020 season. The political climate in the United States coupled with widespread national anthem protests has only added to this. We’re now seeing more numbers. It’s not great for NFL ratings.

It was billed as one of the better prime-time matchups around the NFL world before the 2020 season started. Unfortunately, the struggles of the Minnesota Vikings heading into their Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks on “Sunday Night Football” changed that dynamic a bit.

The game itself was darn good. NFL MVP candidate Russell Wilson led his Seahawks to a comeback win late in the fourth quarter. That apparently didn’t lead to an increase in viewership.

NFL ratings: Vikings-Seahawks “Sunday Night Football” game sees a drop in ratings

NFL TV Ratings
Oct 11, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson (3) react following an extra point against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

According to Deadline.com, 11.42 million viewers tuned in for this conference rivalry game. In terms of NFL ratings, that’s down from the 11.71 million viewers who watched the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 4 win over the San Francisco 49ers on “Sunday Night Football.”

There’s obviously a reason for this. Game 6 of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat went up opposite of NBC’s broadcast of the NFL game. In the end, LeBron James led his Lakers to their first NBA title in a decade in a game that aired on ABC. According to Deadline.com, 5.6 million viewers tuned into that game. It’s a dramatic increase as it relates to ratings we’ve seen around the NBA world during the playoffs.

As for NFL ratings, Week 5’s game between the Vikings and Seahawks is not great news.

NFL ratings for “Sunday Night Football”

It does in fact seem like ratings for Week 3 between the Seahawks and Cowboys was somewhat of an outlier as it relates to viewership. After all, America’s Team does tend to draw a broader audience than others. That’s a significant point to make.

NFL ratings for 2020 season are, by and large, down

  • It did not get much better for the “Sunday Night Football” opener between the Rams and Cowboys. That saw another dip in viewership compared to 2019.

NFL ratings have not been all bad news

  • The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens game on “Monday Night Football” in Week 3 on ESPN showed a 32% increase from the Week 3 MNF broadcast in 2019.
  • Coming into Week 4, the NFL had the 15 highest-rated shows through the first three weeks of the season. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

The issue here is that we’re not seeing NFL TV ratings on part with previous season. There’s an obvious backdrop to all of this.

President Donald Trump vs. the NFL and national anthem protests

In the midst of his re-election campaign, President Trump has already called for a boycott of the NFL due to the widespread national anthem protests we’re seeing around the league. This political split could very well have impacted NFL ratings.

As for the NFL, it has taken a more progressive approach regarding protests. That started on the heels of the murder of George Floyd by a then-Minneapolis police officer back on May 25. This included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell coming out in support of national anthem protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. Other prominent figures around the league have also spoken up.

Related: NFL pushes back against President Trump

The NFL and its players have also made sure that the 2020 season has included a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing protests around the United States.

  • Before the first “Monday Night Football” game in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers held a banner in protest during the anthem. That was met with widespread backlash.

It will be interesting to see how NFL ratings compare to previous seasons with the 2020 election cycle coming to an end between President Trump and challenger Joe Biden (D).

Vincent Frank
Editor here at Sportsnaut. Contributor at Forbes. Previous bylines include Bleacher Report, Yahoo!, SB Nation. Heard on ESPN Radio and NBC Sports Radio. Northern California native living it up in Las Vegas. The Keto lifestyle. Traveler. Reader. TV watcher. Dog daddy. Sam Malone = greatest TV character ever. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," John Keating.