Hours before the second NFL game of the year, president Trump tweeted that Americans are losing interest in football — and he said it’s all because of the protest by some NFL players.
The president wrote, “Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!”
NFL Ratings Are Down Eight Percent from Last Year So Far
The NFL opening game — between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons — was held on Thursday, September 6. The game had the lowest ratings of any opening day NFL game in the past ten years. Ratings were down eight percent from opening day in 2017 — and those ratings were, in turn, down 19 percent from 2016.
The Eagles-Falcons game was also delayed for 45 minutes because of concerns about rain and lightning. The game drew a 32.9 rating in Philadelphia and a 19.8 rating in Atlanta. Nation-wide, the game drew an average rating of 13.4.
Still, experts said the NFL continues to draw serious viewer attention, and the NFL game attracted twice as many viewers as the combined Primetime ratings of the other big networks — ABC, CBS and Fox.
A sports media consultant told the New York Post that all TV viewership had declined — and that NFL ratings are not as far down as ratings for other programming.
“On the plus side, the NFL’s still the tallest midget by a mile,” a sports media consultant told The Post.
Players Did Not Take the Knee During the Thursday Night Game
There was a lot of buzz ahead of the Eagles-Falcon game. Many people were wondering whether the players would “take the knee” in protest during the playing of the National Anthem. Speculation was running wild about what would happen on opening night.
But in fact, there weren’t any dramatic protests. None of the players knelt during the playing of the The Star-Spangled Banner at Lincoln Financial Field in Pennsylvania. Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett sat out the anthem on the bench, as he has before. Otherwise, there were no visible protests.
Nike Recently Rolled Out an Ad Featuring Colin Kaepernick, Which Has Fueled Backlash Among Some Conservatives
Last week, Nike unveiled a new ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick drew a lot of attention — both positive and negative — after he began “taking the knee” during the national anthem at the opening of NFL games. Kaepernick said he was kneeling to protest racism and police brutality; his actions inspired a number of other players to protest as well.
Kaepernick’s protest was criticized by Donald Trump and by many conservatives. The Nike ad campaign also led to a backlash, with many conservatives vowing to boycott Nike; some people went so far as to burn or destroy their Nike sneakers and clothing.