2ND UPDATE, 1:04 PM:  Just days into the new NFL season and the drama of the gridiron is in full effect with dramatic wins, dramatic losses (Hello L.A. Rams) and million of American eyeballs watching it all live. There are, however, not as many eyeballs as in recent years as September 11’s Sunday Night Football official kickoff final viewership of 23.1 million reveals.

Early numbers had already made it pretty clear that the New England Patriots 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals was going to be behind both the near high of 2015 and 2014 as well. And it is – by double digits from last year’s kickoff match-up between the Dallas Cowboy and the N.Y. Giants. This year’s SNF opener was down 16% from 2015 in viewers for NBC and the NFL.

However, compared to the September 7, 2014 SNF opener between the 31-24 winning Denver Broncos over the Indianapolis Colts, this year’s opener was almost even with just a 2% viewership drop.

We’ll see were this all goes in Week 2 when the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings square off on SNF on September 18 – also known as Emmy Day here in Hollywood.

UPDATE, MONDAY, 8:53 AM: Sunday night belonged to Sunday Night Football (7.5/24) of course but the preview of Son Of Zorn (2.4/8) was definitely flexing some semi-animated muscles.

son of zorn

Positioned right after Fox’s own NFL doubleheader and The OT (5.8/20), the Reed Agnew and Eli Jorné created hybrid comedy starring Cheryl Hines, Johnny Pemberton and Jason Sudeikis as the voice of Zorn himself scored a solid debut, equaling the 18-49 average that The Simpsons drew in the slot last fall. With that said, we may see adjustments in the SoZ numbers later because of NFL overruns. By the way, the New Giants’ win over the Dallas Cowboys yesterday afternoon on Fox got a very strong 16.9/32 metered market rating – a NFL MM Week 1 high.

Rising or equaling last fall was not what you could say for the SNF kickoff game in the demo in fast affiliates. Last night’s New England Patriots 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals was down 18% among adults 18-49 from the September 13, 2015 opener. It is also down 16% from the final numbers of the 2014 SNF opener of September 7 of that year. Viewershipwise, last night’s game pulled in an audience of 20.65 million – also down from last year’s early numbers. The 7 PM lead-in of Football Night In America (3.8/13) was …well you can guess. Still, NBC did easily top the night with a 6.1/20 rating and 17.01 million viewers.

Another show taking a tackle last night was the Miss America Competition (1.3/5) on ABC. Won by the amazingly named Savvy Shields of the great state of Arkansas, last night’s 9 – 11 PM ceremony declined 13% in the key demo from 2015 to hit a new 18-49 low. Lead-in Celebrity Family Feud (1.3/4) saw its season finale rise 30% in the demo over its last original of two weeks ago.

On CBS, a double dose Season 1 finale of BrainDead was even with its September 4 show in its regular 10 PM slow with a 0.3/1 rating. In the 9 PM slot, the very quirky Michelle King and Robert King created series was up two-tenths over last week’s regular slotted show. At 7 PM, a 9/11 centric 60 Minutes (1.1/4) was up 83% in the 18-49s over its September 4 show, no doubt helped by the Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins game on the House of Moonves beforehand. The 8 PM Big Brother (1.8/6) rose 38% from last week’s Labor Day weekend decline.

The CW was all encores last night.

PREVIOUS, 6:41 AM: No Tom Brady and no Rob Gronkowski and more absences proved no problem for the New England Patriots last night, as the four-time Super Bowl winners beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 to kick off Sunday Night Football’s regular season.

However, the close primetime game at University of Phoenix Stadium on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks proved a bit of a problem for NBC and the NFL. With the Cardinals down early, the official start of SNF’s 11th season on the Comcast-owned network scored a 14.8/25 in metered market ratings, down 11% from last year’s SNF opener when the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 27-26 at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015.

NBC Sunday Night Football - Season 2015

In fact, while it’s the best metered market result any regular-season Cardinals game has done on NBC, last night’s game is down from not just last year’s SNF kickoff but also 2014, 2013, and the record-breaking 2012 opener. That truly last-minute win by Dallas last year went on to snag 26.8 million viewers and a 10.1 rating among adults 18-49; the big-market matchup didn’t break records but it well reminded everyone just how big the NFL is on TV.

In an apples-to-oranges comparison, last night’s 8:30-11:30 PM SNF game declined just more than 10% in MM results from what the NFL season kickoff drew on NBC on Thursday. That game saw Super Bowl 50 champs the Denver Broncos come from 10 points down to beat the Carolina Panthers 21-20.

We’ll update with more SNF numbers as we get them, as well as look at how the preview debut of Son Of Zorn did on Fox after its NFL doubleheader yesterday, the Season 1 finale of BrainDead and the Miss America Competition.

In the meantime, here are the Top 10 local markets for last night’s Patriots vs. Cardinals game:

1. Boston 37.6/58
2. Phoenix 30.4/49
3. Providence 27.7/42
4. Denver 22.3/39
5. New Orleans 18.4/25
6. Albuquerque 18.3/28
7. Sacramento 18.3/31
8. Las Vegas 18.1/29
9. Norfolk 17.5/26
10. Buffalo 17.3/26

Oh, and if you’re wondering about next weekend: