On a day full of criticism from Donald Trump, political protests, linked arms, players taking a knee or not coming on the field at all during the national anthem, and renewed pleas for unity from the league, NBC and the NFL took a ratings hit on Sunday Night Football.
In metered market numbers, the primetime matchup that saw the Washington Redskins beat the Oakland Raiders 27-10 snared an 11.6/20, the worst SNF has performed this season so far. It’s an 8% dip from the early numbers of last week’s game, Atlanta’s 34-23 win over Green Bay. Amid cheers and boos from fans at FedEx Field in Maryland last night, the third week of the SNF season declined 10% from early numbers of the comparable game of last year on September 25, 2016.
Sunday’s SNF peaked with a 12.r5/20 during the second quarter from 9-9:30 PM ET. Still, NFL ratings are down double-digits this season so far after taking a similar tackle-for-loss last year. Add to that, Sunday’s game was the worst a Week 3 SNF has done in 11-years.
These SNF numbers come on top of a tense Sunday that saw games across the nation under a new spotlight: how would teams respond to Trump’s blasts of Friday at a speech in Alabama and on social media. Started by currently unemployed quarterback and then San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick more than a year ago, several NFL players have been publicly protesting police brutality and racial injustice by not standing for the national anthem
It was a move the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host and football fan Trump decried, though the ever-ratings conscious POTUS later said in a tweet Sunday that linking arms was OK.
Linking arms is what the D.C team did last night, while nearly every single Raiders player stayed on the bench during the national anthem before the game on the Comcast-owned net.
The September 17 SNF game between the Falcons and Packers — originally reporting from 50 of 56 markets due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida, and up against the Emmy Awards — went on to snag 20.2 million viewers. That final NBC viewership number was down 17% from the official SNF kickoff September 10.
Of course, while undoubtedly dominant, SNF wasn’t the only action Sunday on the small screen. Pushed back nearly 20 minutes because of NFL overruns, CBS had the Oprah Winfrey-debuting and 50th anniversary season premiere of 60 Minutes and the one and only broadcast of the new Star Trek Discovery, which will call CBS All Access home.
We’ll update with more SNF results and the Star Trek Discovery, Steve Harvey’s Funderdome numbers as we get them. In the meantime, here are the top markets for last night’s SNF:
- D.C. — 23.3/40
- Richmond — 22.1/33
- Norfolk — 19.8/31
- Sacramento — 17.5/32
- S.F./Oakland — 17.2/35
- New Orleans — 17.2/24
- Denver — 16.2/27
- Buffalo — 15.4/24
- Kansas City — 14.8/24
- Las Vegas — 14.5/23
UPDATE, 9:17 AM: The results of next week will likely give us a better perspective if it was the widespread political protests by NFL players or a lopsided win by the Washington Redskins over the Oakland Raiders that brought Sunday Night Football’s ratings down last night.
Regardless, with metered market numbers displaying an 8% dip, the fast affiliate results for last night aren’t providing a Hail Mary for NBC or the ratings-challenged league. In non-adjusted numbers, last night’s SNF delivered a 5.3/19 among adults 18-49 and 14.5 million viewers. In the 8:30-11 PM slot, that puts the Washington-Oakland game on the East Coast down 17% in the key demo from the Week 2 matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.
Viewershipwise, last night’s game is currently taking a 21% hit from the fast affiliates of the September 17 game, which was down 14% from the Season opener of September 10.
None of which will induce an end zone dance for the net or the league in a season already seeing double-digit declines from the 2016-2017 season – itself down from the previous year.
Last week’s Emmy Awards-facing SNF game ended up with a total audience of 20.2 million.
Unlikely to change in the final numbers is NBC’s double win for the night, currently at 4.5/16 in the demo and 12.71 million total viewers. With NFL overrun (5.5/21), the new season debut of 60 Minutes (2.5/9) and a special preview broadcast of Star Trek Discovery (1.6/6), CBS is in second with a 2.6/10 rating and 11.79 million viewers.
Pushed back to a 7:48 PM ET start by the Kansas City Chiefs’ 24-10 victory over the L.A. Chargers, the now Oprah-featuring CBS newsmag was the night’s highest-rated non-sports show. Following that, the Sonequa Martin-Green-led Discovery had a pretty good debut in the first new Star Trek on the small screen in nearly 20 years.
Discovery was up 129% over the February 19 premiering spinoff The Good Fight, the first new series to call CBS All Access home, among 18-49s.
Expect, as with SNF, final adjusted numbers for 60 Minutes and Discovery later today. While the Chiefs-Chargers game was down 1% from the comparable late afternoon matchup last year, the House of Moonves did score yesterday’s highest-rated MM NFL game, with Kansas City’s victory bringing in a 13.8/27.
Otherwise, the season finale of Steve Harvey’s Funderdome (0.8/3) on ABC was up 33% in the key demo over its last original. Celebrity Family Feud (1.0/4) and season finale of The $100,000 Pyramid (0.6/3) were steady with recent shows.
Fox’s only original was the Ice-T hosted documentary Who Shot Biggie and Tupac (1.1/4), which did OK.