The NFL’s narrative that the elections ruined their ratings took a substantial blow on Monday when the overnight numbers for NBC’s Sunday Night Football became available.
Hint: they did not impress.
NBC’s broadcast of the Chiefs vs. Broncos on SNF came in a staggering 27 points behind last year’s Week 12 SNF matchup featuring the Patriots and the Broncos. Sure, Patriots-Broncos makes for a more compelling watch than Chiefs-Broncos, but does not justify a thirty-point ratings difference.
The NFL actually tried to do the right thing on Sunday night and it still blew up in their face. The league, rightly, stepped in and moved the originally-scheduled Pats-Jets matchup to Sunday afternoon, replacing it with a much more appetizing Chiefs and Broncos, two relevant division rivals fighting it out for playoff position.
Despite the game turning into an extremely hard-hitting, five-quarter affair complete with nail-biting moments and controversial decisions, the fans did not give it the time of day.
This ratings letdown stands in stark contrast to the Redskins-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day which drew more than 35 million viewers. The league thought that number would signal a turn in their ratings fortunes but instead it proved that the entire country at home and unable to move watches television.
Not to mention the fact that the presidential election ended three weeks ago, which makes pinning the NFL’s woes on the “quadrennial silly season” all the more problematic. In short, the NFL might just have to wake up to the fact that America just isn’t that into them anymore.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn