NFL Ratings Take Hit From Hurricane Irma in Week 1

NFL Ratings Take Hit From Hurricane

Hurricane Irma’s destructive tear through Florida and the Southeast last weekend took its toll on the NFL’s week 1 television ratings.

With the exception of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” all NFL telecasts experienced declines in final Nielsen household numbers and total viewers. The hardest hit were the Sunday afternoon games, which took place as many Florida viewers were experiencing the brunt of the storm as it moved up the state — and others across the country were following its path on cable news.

Overall, total viewership for kickoff weekend was down 13% from last year, and viewership in the 18-49 demo down 14%.


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Fox’s 1 p.m. ET regional action averaged a 6.6 household rating and 11.3 million total viewers, each down 28% from the same week last year. The 4 p.m. game, which in most markets featured the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, drew a 12.7, down 18%, and 22.8 million viewers, down 17%. CBS’ regional game drew a 7.6, down 18%, and 13.4 million viewers, down 17%.

From 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET Sunday, as those games were airing, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the Weather Channel — all of which were dominated by Irma coverage — together averaged an 8.1 household rating, up 344% from the same Sunday last year. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” the four channels averaged a 7.1 rating, up 173% from last year.

Boasting a matchup of two major-market teams with national followings, “Sunday Night Football” weathered the storm. The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys drew a 13.4 rating, up 2% from last year, and 24.4 million viewers, up 6%. NBC’s season-opening game last Thursday featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots fared less well, down 14% with 12.6 and 13% with 21.8 million viewers.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” double-header also took a hit, with only 48 of 56 Nielsen metered markets reporting ratings due to damage from Irma. The early game featuring the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings drew a 6.8 and 11.4 million viewers, each down 12%. The later matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos drew a 6.0, down 3%, and 9.9 million viewers, down 4%.

After several seasons of steadily increasing viewership, the NFL and its broadcast partners experienced an 8% decline in Nielsen-measured total viewers in 2016 from the previous year. Week 1 had been anticipated as an indicator of whether the 2017 season would see ratings tick back up, as league and television executives blamed much of last year’s decline on the drama surrounding the presidential election and its pull of viewers to cable news. But with Irma making an apples-to-apples comparison difficult, week 2 will be a better indicator as to whether the TV audience’s appetite for football has fully returned.

Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris observed in a note Thursday that Nielsen markets affected by the storm accounted for roughly 8% of all U.S. television households — and also attributed some linear viewership drop-off to increases in digital viewing. But Morris went on to write, “Continued declines in NFL ratings again this season will likely place further downward pressure on media stocks … as investors face further uncertainty in ratings since the NFL is an indicator of overall primetime programming ratings performance.”

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  1. allysonfinch says:

    It’s the exact opposite boycott. Most racist Trump voters weren’t wantching the NFL anyway. These are people who for eons have said things like “I only watch college football, because it’s not full of overprivileged millionaire athletes.” These guys are watching the SEC on Saturday but aren’t watching the NFL anyway. But now they’re coming to take credit for the boycott. Decent people who stand with athletes working on social justice are the reason for the ratings decline. The NFL can take a look at the demos breakdown at anytime and verify it, and hopefully someone in media will do just that- pull out the DMA maps and show where the viewer atrophy is happening this season, compared to last season. Is the NFL “losing” viewers in Knoxville, Tennessee and Mobile, Alabama? Or in Chicago and NYC? I’m shocked that this article tries to blame Hurricane Irma for week one’s ratings. What exactly is that based on? The reporter never said. Where’s the Nielsen report? Source your info, please.

  2. Mark says:

    We are still boycotting the league. When they condemn the kneeing and sitting and ban the players from disrespecting the flag and country. We will return to watching.

  3. Michael Richards says:

    The reason the NFL is loosing popularity is the fact that FANS have realized the games are SCRIPTED! I’ve known for years, and my friends would try and argue with me until we would watch a game together. Then they would see the light, but not want to admit it. After watching the games with an open mind it is obvious and they all now agree. The league is filthy and now will be put in the trash where garbage belongs. Just a heads up, start watching the refs closer. A ref standing next to an area where a penalty occurs does not throw a flag, it’s thrown by a ref on the other side of the field. On another play one flag flies, and then they all throw flags after they see another ref throw one. Games, tempo, flow, field position, offense , defense, are all controlled by the ZEBRAS. Just like the WWE. NO ONE CAN ARGUE THIS STATEMENT. I CAN SHOW IT IN EVERY GAME PLAYED ON REPLAY. I personally love the game, but can only watch a few minutes before I see garbage going on and it’s off goes the TV.

  4. Todd says:

    Semper Fi… Enough said!

  5. Allan Falk says:

    Hurricane has nothing to do with it…….people are just tired of those criminals

  6. Oh, it’s the hurricane now. BWAAAAHAAAAAAAA What will it be next week? People out shopping for Halloween costumes?

    Everyone knows what the real reason is. Your SJW trope and disrespect for the country is not good for ratings. Also when you try and sissify the game and attract the women viewers, men are going to lose interest. My sister is playing fairy tale football. Out.

  7. I’m proud that my fellow boycotters have actually surprised me. I was thinking the ratings would bounce back, but the deplorables have come through again! Congrats! I’m so proud of you! Bankrupt this vile sport.

    • Allan Falk says:

      yes sir…….get decent people back in the NFL, then MAYBE i will watch again

      • Bobwoodward says:

        So you take credit for slumping numbers..what a joke. It. Is a bad product. 12 minutes of live Action for a 3 hour time commitment. Or maybe look at youth football numbers over last 10 years..down over a million kids. Or you could look at any survey conducted over the last ten years and see that watching/playing football fails to fall in the top 10 or 20 things that today’s youth engage in. Or you could look at the actual ratings and see the actual demographics. About 85 percent of the audience are males b/w 30 and 65…not something precluding a growth avenue. Or that over the last 5 years almost 12 million American homes have cut cable…thus access to the games. Or that NBA ratings were also down 8% last year
        Or that over the last 5 years youth participation in soccer is up 3 million youth and over that time frame ratings for soccer viewing are up reciprocally. But you keep taking credit hajahaha laughsble at best

  8. NFL without Tebow = Netanyahu Football League!

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