Days after the NFL issued a statement in support of controversial new Nike spokesman Colin Kaepernick (who is suing the league), ratings for last night's season opener between the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons dropped to its lowest level since 2009.
NBC announced a 13.4 overnight rating - a drop of over 8% over last year, and nearly 25% since 2015, marking the third year of declines.
Past 5 years of NFL Kickoff game overnight ratings:— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) September 7, 2018
2017: Chiefs/Pats: 14.6
2016: Panthers/Broncos: 16.5
2015: Steelers/Pats: 17.7
2014: Packers/Seahawks: 16.8
2013: Ravens/Broncos: 16.2
NBC says the Eagles-Falcons drew a 13.4 overnight rating. No way to spin that other than disappointing for the league and network We'll see what Sunday brings. https://t.co/mJR5Dkn3I7— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 7, 2018
That said, many have suggested the dip in ratings was due to extenuating circumstances, after the kickoff was delayed by nearly an hour due to thunderstorms in Philadelphia.
As NBC Sports' Michael David Smith notes, however:
there are only so many times that the NFL can spin its ratings decline as being the result of extenuating circumstances. Whatever the reasons, the league’s television ratings are not the juggernaut they once were. The NFL still gets national television ratings that any other sport (or, for that matter, any entertainment program) would kill for, but it no longer gets the kinds of television ratings it got a few years back. -NBC Sports