NFL ratings: Thursday night steady, Sunday night down
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Week 2’s NFL ratings are starting to trickle in, and the news is ... there’s no definite news.
This comes after a week that saw several key ratings plummet — and several others rocket to their highest points in years.
‘Thursday Night Football’ (NFL Network)
The debut of “Thursday Night Football” (the season debut was technically part of the “Sunday Night Football” lineup; don’t ask) featured a very TNF-esque matchup: Cincinnati Bengals versus the Cleveland Browns. According to Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp, the audience was ... pretty much exactly the same as last year:
The first "Thursday Night Football" game of the NFL season, Bengals-Browns, averaged 6.68 million viewers on NFL Network last night.
Last year in Week 2 on "TNF", Bucs-Panthers averaged 6.67 million.
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) September 18, 2020
‘NFL Sunday’ (Fox)
Fox’s Sunday singleheader, led by the memorable Atlanta Falcons-Dallas Cowboys game, again recorded an increase over last year, seeing a rise of 6 percent over 2019. The combined games recorded a 10.5 rating. Last week’s Fox broadcast was the major highlight of Week 1’s ratings.
JUST IN: Fox's NFL Week 2 singleheader drew 16,865,000 viewers, up 10% over last season's comparable slot (15,332,000 viewers).
Overnight ratings were up 6%.
— Torrey Hart (@torreyhart) September 22, 2020
‘Sunday Night Football’ (NBC)
Historically the highest-rated program of the year, “Sunday Night Football” is a closely watched barometer for how the NFL’s ratings ebb and flow.
Sunday night’s game was a marquee matchup of the Patriots and Seahawks, a game that came down to the final play. Even so, ratings in initial — and we have to stress, INITIAL — returns were down from last week, according to Deadline. (Ratings are always lower in initial returns, as not all markets report in before the figures are made public, and all out-of-home viewing doesn’t come in until later in the week.)
Patriots-Seahawks drew 12.22 million viewers in initial metrics and 3.5 in the ratings in the most prized age demographic between 7 and 11 p.m. ET Sunday night, Deadline noted. That’s down 17 percent in audience and 25 percent in the specific demographic from last week’s early numbers. Last week’s Cowboys-Rams game rose to 18.94 million viewers and a 6.2 rating in final numbers.
Last year’s Week 2 matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles drew 15.87 million viewers and a rating of 5.3 in initial numbers.
Of note: This week’s game was facing significant competition from the prime-time Emmys as well as a highly competitive Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference finals game.
In sharp contrast to Week 1, the second week of games in the NFL featured little overt messaging in the promotion of social justice.
Overall, the week’s ratings continued to show a significant decline year over year, according to Sportico:
Discounting the Monday Night Football deliveries, which won't be in until the end of the day, the audience for Week Two of the 2020 NFL season was down 10% YOY (14.0M viewers for the 5 national and regional windows vs. 15.6M). Season-to-date, viewership is down 9% to 15.1M.
— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) September 22, 2020
‘Monday Night Football’ (ABC/ESPN)
MNF saw strong increases over last year. However, it’s worth noting that this year’s game was on broadcast television, while last year’s was only on cable:
Last night's "Monday Night Football" combined for 15,435,000 viewers on ABC/ESPN, up 26% from last year’s Week 2 Monday Night Football telecast between Cleveland and the New York Jets that aired solely on ESPN (12,217,000).
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 22, 2020
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee and contact him with tips and story ideas at email@example.com.
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