Packers-Bears ratings top all non-NFL games in 2019

Like pizza and other things, even when NFL football is bad, it’s still pretty good. Such was the case with Thursday night’s season opener, where the Packers beat the Bears 10-3 in an uninspiring slog. But the fact that the game had all the allure and zest of cheese pizza didn’t dent ratings whatsoever.

As Sports Media Watch noted, the ratings for Thursday night’s game were the best in three years for the opener. The 15.3 of Packers-Bears was a 14 percent improvement over last year’s weather-delayed Eagles-Falcons game, and a 5 percent gain over 2017’s Chiefs-Patriots. 2016’s Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl rematch drew a 16.5.

Worth noting: as bad as it was, this game still outdrew every single non-NFL sporting event to date in 2019, from the Clemson-Alabama national championship to the NBA Finals, the NCAA college basketball championship, and the Stanley Cup Final.

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Plus, here’s an interesting tidbit from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand: “TV ratings numbers from last night’s Packers-Bears game that will most interest league and network execs: some markets with legalized sports betting were up big. Pittsburgh (+23%) and Providence (+36%) are two markets with statewide mobile betting.”

NBC noted some seriously impressive ratings for certain markets, with Milwaukee in particular showing up big with a strong 48.1 rating and a nice 69 share of all TVs tuned in:

Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that ratings charts aren’t some untouchable, definitive statement of a league’s popularity. For starters, ratings in the abstract have zero impact on your enjoyment as a viewer; you’re always going to be able to watch NFL football somewhere. Plus, ratings take into account TVs, and don’t yet comprise all the other ways you can now watch games, including right here on Yahoo Sports. But as one metric in the overall measurement of the NFL’s apparently relentless march to world domination, it’s a useful look at how this game stays winning.


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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