NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ ratings were down again last night, but whether that’s a result of players protesting during the national anthem or the fact that the Seattle Seahawks blew out the Indianapolis Colts, 46-18, remains unclear.
The broadcast had an 11.0 rating on Sunday and a 19 share, which is to say that 11 percent of Nielsen households and 19 percent of the entire television audience tuned in to NBC’s NFL coverage on Sunday, according to Deadline.com.
NFL players began protesting police brutality and injustice against minorities in 2016. However, the demonstrations gained added attention this year after President Donald Trump implored NFL owners last month to ‘fire’ anyone who took a knee during the national anthem, going so far as to refer to such players as ‘sons of b*****.’
On Sunday, six Seahawks players remained seated during the national anthem
On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts stood for the national anthem with their arms interlocked
Trump has repeatedly suggested that the NFL’s ratings problems are related to the players’ protests.
To his point, the downward trend for Sunday Night Football has been undeniable. Beginning with the Green Bay Packers-Atlanta Falcons matchup in Week 2, according to Deadline.com, NBC saw a roughly 20 percent decline from the Week 1 opener. The Oakland Raiders-Washington Redskins Week 3 matchup took another eight percent dip from Week 2.
On Sunday, NBC’s Sunday Night Football ratings fell another five percent.
There are, however, plenty of caveats.
Week 2 was played on September 17, the same night as the Emmy Awards. And Week 1’s matchup featured two of the league’s most popular teams, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, which netted 24.2 million viewers – a five percent boost from the 2016 Sunday Night Football opener.
Fans throughout the NFL have brought signs to game as a way of making their voices heard
Two fans support the protesting Seahawks players by holding an ‘Everybody vs. Trump’ sign
Through the first three weeks, viewership for nationally televised NFL games was down 11 percent compared to 2016, the Nielsen company said on September 26.
According to Nielsen, the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and dipped to 15.65 million over the first three weeks this season. The Nielsen figures don’t include many of the Sunday afternoon games that are shown to a regional audience, but not a national one.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has been protesting police violence against minorities since last season
Trump previously predicted on last week that the NFL would ‘go to hell’ if it doesn’t listen to his demand for a ban on protests during the national anthem.
‘They have a rule, you can’t dance in the end zone, you can’t wear pink socks – one guy’s mother had breast cancer and they wouldn’t let him – you can’t do anything,’ said Trump, according to Politico. ‘But you’re allowed to sit down for the National Anthem!’
Recently, conservative groups have called for people angered by the protests to boycott games.
On Sunday, six Seahawks players – including defensive end Michael Bennett – sat on the bench during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ while the rest of the team stood along the sidelines. The Colts chose to lock arms along the sidelines.
Bennett has drawn national attention since accusing the Las Vegas Metro Police Department of racially profiling him and threatening to shoot him after gunfire was erroneously reported after the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight in August. LVMPD Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Friday that the department’s ongoing investigation into the matter has not revealed Bennett was profiled or that the officers in question did anything improper.
Seattle Seahawks fans standing for the national anthem before Sunday’s win over Indianapolis