In the words of ESPN’s Max Kellerman, “these four things I know are true”: The sun rises in the east, your dog wants steak, the highest-grossing movie in any given year will be about a comic book … and the NFL’s TV ratings are falling like a rock.
Today’s doom-and-gloom news comes courtesy of Awful Announcing, which reports that ratings for the “Thursday Night Football” NFL Network season premiere between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens were down 13 percent compared with the same slot from 2017.
The overall audience hit 7.02 million viewers, and the household rating — 4.2 — was 14 percent off from last year’s figure.
NFL Network's Thursday Night Football opener drew 7.02M viewers and a 4.2 HH rating, down 13%/14% vs. the year-ago Texans-Bengals telecast, which averaged 8.08M viewers and a 4.9 HH rating.
— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) September 14, 2018
The NFL tried to put a positive spin on the numbers, pointing out that the apples of the season premiere were up 15 percent from the oranges of the seven-game average for NFL Network-exclusive games in 2017.
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) September 14, 2018
While we’re on the subject, it’s bad enough that the NFL Network premiere was down 13 percent from last year’s premiere. What makes it worse is that last year’s premiere was a fairly modest-interest game between the Houston Texans and the Bengals, while this year’s matchup was an AFC North rivalry game between two undefeated teams.
The NFL is on one heck of a losing streak lately, and each week the ratings news seems to get worse and worse.
In Week 1, overall ratings were down, especially when compared to 2016 — before national anthem protests became the massive national embarrassment they’ve become for the NFL — rather than 2017, when the ratings had already started to melt down.
The season-opening Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons game Sept. 6 put up a 13.4 rating on NBC, the lowest in a decade.
“Monday Night Football” couldn’t even draw 10 million viewers in any of its 15-minute windows, something that has happened only eight times since 2001.
It’s not looking good for the NFL Network as the season goes on, either.
Next Thursday’s matchup is New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns, not exactly an AFC championship game preview.
The NFL is approaching some desperate times, as shown by its blatant manipulation of the numbers to try and make the Thursday night game look like something other than the ratings disaster it was.
Fans continue to turn away in droves. Ratings continue to decline. Controversy over everything but actual football continues to rage off the field.
Football may still be America’s most popular sport, but nowhere in the laws of gods or men does it say that must always be the case. It’s third-and-long and the league is going to have to pull off a heck of a play to stay on top.
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