The NFL’s opening Thursday night game got disappointing TV ratings for a league that is battling perceptions of rapidly declining popularity.
NBC announced a 13.4 overnight rating for the Super Bowl champion Eagles’ last-second win over the Falcons. That was way down from the 14.6 for Chiefs-Patriots last year, which itself was way down from a 16.5 for Panthers-Broncos the year before, which itself was way down from a 17.7 for Steelers-Patriots the year before that.
Are there extenuating circumstances? Sure. Kickoff was delayed by almost an hour because of thunderstorms in Philadelphia, and the game was a sloppy, penalty-filled mess.
But 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.