The Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers went down to the wire. But fewer wires, and satellites and antennas, brought that exciting finish into homes than the similar conclusion between the Patriots and Buccaneers last week.
The Eagles-Panthers Thursday Night Football matchup dropped five percent of the viewership of Pats-Bucs. It increased viewership from the Thursday night game a year ago that faced competition from a hurricane, baseball playoffs, and the presidential election. But the marquee matchup drew a mediocre audience.
Deadline Hollywood reports that the game drew a 10.6 rating and an 18 share in metered markets. As a tacit acknowledgement of what ails professional football, the league did not air the national anthem, which saw no kneelers but several protest gestures confined to the Eagles sideline, on the CBS/NFL Network game.
Though marred with turnovers, the game played as a national coming out party of sorts for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, conveyed a loud statement by the Eagles run defense (Panthers running backs amassed one yard on 13 carries), witnessed Cam Newton go into full Superman mode by stretching in mid-air to extend the ball across the pylon (the referees ruled he didn’t quite make it, denying us another Superman routine), and featured not one but two late fourth quarter chances for the Panthers to come back. Those who tuned in watch an exciting contest between two teams who look good to play beyond the regular season.
Ultimately, the Eagles triumphed 28-23 on the road after the Panthers could not convert a crucial fourth and one with under a minute left to play. Despite featuring two of the NFC’s elite teams, fewer people watched this week’s game than last week’s contest.
That looks like a pattern.