CBS' ratings go up for Week 3, NFL ratings as whole expected to see increase

This will be hard to explain for the people who complain about NFL protests and like to take credit for the drop in the league’s television ratings: With more protests and demonstrations in Week 3 than any other week in NFL history, ratings were up.

CBS, which had the doubleheader on Sunday, reported an increase with a huge spike for its pregame show.

Overall ratings will likely be up from last season (the ratings for the pregame shows was the major reason for the overall increase) once the Dallas Cowboys play the Arizona Cardinals on “Monday Night Football.” The Cowboys are regularly the biggest ratings draw the sport has. This is from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal and Michael Mulvihill, the senior vice president for programming and research at Fox Sports:

The ratings dip was always overblown. The NFL destroys every other sport in television ratings. Percentages might have been down for a couple weeks, but the NFL had set such a high bar that it was a prisoner of its own success when comparing ratings to previous years.

There was also some cherry-picking involved in bloviating about the ratings decrease. Mulvihill tweeted before Sunday’s games that of the seven windows for NFL football through two weeks, ratings had increased for four of them compared to 2016. Hurricane Irma certainly had a bigger effect on ratings in Week 1 than anyone boycotting because of national anthem protests. Also, sometimes people weren’t making fair comparisons. Last season, the first “Thursday Night Football” game was on CBS. This season it was only on NFL Network. And that Bengals-Texans game in Week 2 was up nine percent over the first “TNF” game exclusively on NFL Network last season. Making a blanket statement about NFL ratings being down for Week 2 rarely took that into consideration.

And for the notion that college football was taking over the NFL’s turf, well …

It’s hard to take seriously any claim that people boycotting the NFL because of protests are responsible for the decline in NFL ratings – and for everyone who says they won’t watch the NFL because players kneel during the anthem, there are others who say they won’t watch the NFL because Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned – after what we saw in Week 3. It was a great Sunday of football and still the main story was what players did during the national anthem. And people tuned in en masse, as they usually do for the NFL.

As it turns out, a lot of people still watch the NFL despite a vocal minority insisting otherwise. Go figure.

Brandin Cooks hauls in a game-winning touchdown for the Patriots in one of the highlight games of Week 3. (AP)
Brandin Cooks hauls in a game-winning touchdown for the Patriots in one of the highlight games of Week 3. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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