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NFL ratings: Week 2 brings mixed results, leads to more questions than answers

NFL logo during Bears-Panthers game
Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys’ thrilling 40-39 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon was among the most talked about games on NFL Week 2 slate. Atlanta held a two-score lead with just over two minutes remaining, only to fall in an epic manner to America’s Team.

There’s a major backdrop to this. It includes questions about NFL television ratings throughout the early portion of the 2020 season and whether a certain sector of fans are tuning the league out. That included a major decrease in ratings for the Cowboys’ “Sunday Night Football” loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1.

Related: What to make of decreased NFL ratings

We now have more information on NFL ratings. Said information brings more questions than answers.

NFL television ratings up on Fox for Week 2

According to a press release from Fox, its airing of the above-mentioned Cowboys-Falcons game saw an uptick of 6% in viewership from the same time slot on CBS a season ago. Interestingly enough, the largest markets for that single-game slot were Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The Dallas region ranked just ahead of Minneapolis.

Sunday Night Football” Week 2 TV ratings down

This is definitely an interesting aspect to everything. As noted above, NBC’s broadcast of the Rams-Cowboys Week 1 game on Sunday night was down a whole lot from a season ago.

Unfortunately for the NFL, its Week 2 matchup between the the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks drew a 4.2 early rating (via Show Buzz Daily). That’s down 1.2 from last week.

In terms of raw numbers, 14.09 million viewers tuned in to the Patriots-Seahawks game compared to 18.94 million who tuned in for the Cowboys-Rams Week 1 affair.

Competition likely played a role here, too. The 72nd annual Emmy Awards on ABC went up directly against “Sunday Night Football.” With that said, ratings were also down for that award show.

NFL ratings and national anthem protests

Related: President Trump calls for NFL boycott

  • The primary focus for those who have pointed to a decrease in television ratings include the ongoing national anthem protests around the NFL world. That did not change this past Sunday after league-wide protests during the opening week of football to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Related: NFL to push back against President Trump?

  • We now have enough figures to draw somewhat of a soft conclusion as it relates to this. The opening week “Monday Night Football” doubleheader saw a dramatic decrease in ratings from a season ago, as did the opening “Thursday Night Football” game between the Chiefs and Texans.
  • What’s interesting here is that the Browns’ thrilling win over the Bengals this past Thursday night saw a nice little increase from a season ago. Taking into account the figures we have from Sunday’s Week 2 NFL action, there’s a reason to believe that any politically-motivated boycott of the NFL might have been short-lived. At the very least, they are not going to make or break the NFL.
  • We will probably have a better understanding of this after the Raiders’ first home game in Las Vegas against the New Orleans Saints takes place Monday night on ESPN. For now, it’s a mixed bag.
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