With the coronavirus pandemic still raging across America, this year’s NFL season opener was as different as night and day in many ways from the 100th season kickoff in 2019.
For one thing, as reigning Super Bowl champs the Kansas City Chiefs pummeled the Houston Texans 34-20, the ratings were down – a lot.
In early numbers, the primetime NBC game scored a 5.2 among adults 18-49 and 16.4 million viewers between 8 – 11 PM ET.
Now, those numbers for the 8:25 – 11:30 PM ET game itself will certainly be adjusted upward later, but right now that’s a 16.1% drop over the spectacle of the September 5, 2019 season opener among the advertiser rich demographic. In an America and a NFL still adjusting to the new normal of live sports in the era of COVID-19, last night’s Kansas City victory also fell 16.1% in total sets of eyeballs from last year’s fast affiliate results – but remember, those numbers will change in one form or another later today.
NFL Makes Sure Everything’s Up To Date In Kansas City As A Newly Socially Conscious League Kicks Off Season
Having said that, right now, the TV viewership results for the game in front of 17,000 socially distanced fans at KC’s more than 76,000 capacity Arrowhead Stadium is looking like a 10-year low for the NFL and NBC.
On a field bordered with the words “End Racism” and fans booing as players from both teams linked arms in a sign of solidarity with those fighting social injustice, the ratings and viewership decline could be an ominous sign for a league and the networks. The stellar numbers of last year’s grinding 10-3 win by the Green Bay Packers had over the Chicago Bears kicked off a tightly run season that seemingly finally beaten off years of weakening numbers. Now it could be a case of deju vu all over again.
Also, even with the Texans taking an early lead in last night’s game, once halftime came and Kansas City ruled 17-7, there was never much drama in who the winner was going to be. By the time the scoreboard was reading 31-7 for the hometown team, a fourth quarter rally by Houston was a noble but wasted effort. Add to that the fact that KC and Houston are not big national draws and this opening stumble may end up being a footnote once the Dallas Cowboys and the LA Rams face off on Sunday Night Football this weekend.
For data comparisons, last year’s 100th season opener ended up with a viewership of 22 million for the Roger Goodell-run league and the Comcast-owned network. Among the key demo, the 2019 kickoff went on to snag a 12.8/26 rating.
As it is, NBC easily won the night last night even with the NFL dropping.
We will update with more NFL season opener ratings as we get them. As we await that data, take a moment to remember that terrible day 19 years ago and those we lost when America was attacked.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2020