UPDATED, 3:45 PM: Having seen the new NFL season start off with the opening game hitting a nine-year viewership low and the official start of Monday Night Football slipping from 2017, the final numbers for Sunday Night Football aren’t going to leave anyone at the league or among the broadcasters smiling.
Ending up with a 7.5/29 rating among adults 18-49 and an audience of 22.12 million, NBC’s SNF season opener took a dive from last year. Among the key demo, the September 9 comeback win for the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears dropped 18% from the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants matchup of September 10, 2017.
In overall sets of eyeballs, the 2018/2019 SNF season opener slide 9% from the viewership of the year before.
Neither sets of figures look good for a league facing ratings decline the past several years, at all.
PREVIOUSLY, SEPT 10 AM: Facing a 17-0 halftime deficit against the Chicago Bears in the official Sunday Night Football kickoff to the new NFL season, last night was not a game the Green Bay Packers were supposed to win. But while Sunday’s early ratings for NBC are down from both 2017 and 2016, nobody seemed to inform Aaron Rodgers, who overcame a knee injury from earlier in the game to lead the host Packers to a simply amazing 24-23 victory.
As one well heeled Packers fan noted this morning:
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) September 10, 2018
However, facing a night of the 2019 Miss America Competition on ABC, Big Brother on CBS and a preview of Rel on Fox, ratings glory was not to be found, with SNF snagging a 14.4/25 in metered market results. That’s down 9% from the September 10, 2017 opener, the big draw Dallas Cowboys’ 19-3 win over the big market New York Giants. Last night’s SNF ratings are also down 3% from the September 11, 2016 opener, when the New England Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-21.
Despite the delays in getting numbers from Nielsen due to Hurricane Irma hitting Florida last year, the Cowboys’ victory went on to pull in 24.2 million viewers, which was was a rise of 5% from the 2016 SNF opener. So we could see last night’s SNF opener down from both of the past two years, even though the Packers-Bears game saw the best metered market result for any NBC Sunday game in almost a year.
Amidst more controversy about player protests during Sunday’s first full week of games, last night’s SNF was up 7% in early numbers from Thursday’s season kickoff, when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons and the game hit a nine-year viewership low of 19 million when the final numbers came in
Overall, the NFL again earned the online wrath of President Donald Trump, who attacked the league and player protests this morning:
STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! pic.twitter.com/oHk86YNi0v
— The Trump Train 🚂🇺🇸 (@The_Trump_Train) September 9, 2018
As we await more potential tweets from POTUS on the subject close to his and his base’s heart, we’ll update with more SNF numbers and everything else on Sunday’s primetime.
In the meantime, for your info, last night’s SNF peaked with a 15.4/30 at the end of the Packers’ comebac. In contrast to SNF‘s ratings slump, over on CBS, the metered market ratings for Sunday’s regional single-header games drew a 10.6/22, up 23% from last year.
Back in SNF-land, which did have the best metered market result for any primetime show since a March 25 60 Minutes, here’s a look at the top markets for last night’s game:
1. Milwaukee 49.6/71
2. Chicago 35.3/55
3. Minneapolis 23.5/43
4. New Orleans 20.6/28
5. Richmond 18.1/29
6. Denver 17.3/32
7. Albuquerque 17.3/28
8. Phoenix 16.7/30
9. Sacramento 16.2/31
10. Norfolk 16.2/27
UPDATE: 8:47 AM: The Green Bay Packers came from way behind to win last night’s first official Sunday Night Football of the new season but the NFL and NBC aren’t doing a dance in the end zone.
Early metered market numbers had the Packers and Chicago Bears game down from last year and 2016 and the fast affiliates reflect that trend too. With a 6.6/25 rating among adults 18-49 and 19.7 million viewers, last night’s SNF declined 17% from the non-adjusted ratings of the winning Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants match-up of September 10, 2017.
Obviously, yesterday’s numbers will see some changes as the final figures come in. As a barometer, the 2017 SNF opener eventually had a strong network viewership of 24.2 million viewers and a demo rating of 9.1.
The rest of last night saw ABC’s revamped 2019 Miss America Competition (0.7/3) hit a rating low with a crash of 42% from last year on the Disney-owned net. On Fox, a special post NFL preview of Rel (1.7/7) delivered the goods for the still Rupert Murdoch owned net in fast affiliates. However, compared to the hyped post football preview debut of Seth McFarlane’s The Orville on the comparable date in 2017, Rel was down 26%. Fox are now reporting that Rel has inched up to a 1.9 rating.
CBS had a lot of drama off-screen with more sexual misconduct claims against Les Moonves and the departure of the CEO late in the day. On-screen, the now Joe Ianniello run company saw 60 Minutes (0.9/4) and the still Julie Chen hosted Big Brother (1.5/6) both rise 50% and 25% respectively among the 18-49s. Both shows saw adjustments in the final number with former down a tenth and the latter up a tenth.