Despite presidential controversy amid a prominent NFL protest movement, and a tepid “Sunday Night Football,” a large audience for “Monday Night Football” actually propelled the NFL’s third week into a year-over-year ratings improvement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The outlet reported that the average rating across all Sunday and Monday game was up 3% compared to the same week in 2016.
The “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals made for the strongest ratings for a “MNF” game this season. Ratings for the game rose 63% above the week three game from 2016, according to ESPN, though that game suffered from being in direct competition with a presidential debate.
As ESPN broke with tradition to air the national anthem before the “MNF” game, the entire Dallas Cowboys team, including owner Jerry Jones, kneeled together before the anthem.
The unified image capped off a weekend that saw over 200 players kneel during the anthem in protest of police brutality, racial injustice, and the divisive comments of President Trump, who repeatedly stated that any kneeling protester should be “fired,” while attacking the league’s “bad ratings.”
Trump continued his attacks on the NFL into Tuesday morning, writing that NFL ratings are “way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected.”
Though the variation of game matchups (and a number of other factors) can make it hard to judge NFL ratings on a week-to-week basis, the league did see a 12% drop in ratings in week one of this year, followed by a 15% drop in week two, according to Nielsen.
NFL ratings were also down an average of 8% over the course of last season.
Nonetheless, this overall uptick in viewership for week three at least provides the league with some ratings relief amid a weekend of controversy.
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