There was a time when Bill Belichick and the Patriots meant big time ratings for whichever network was televising them, that time is apparently over.
The Patriots took on the New York Jets on Monday night and not only was there virtually no one in the stands to watch the game, but there was also virtually no one watching at home either.
According to Sports Media Watch:
The Patriots’ narrow Monday Night Football win over the Jets averaged 9.83 million viewers on ESPN, down 30% from last year (Cowboys-Giants: 13.98M) and the network’s least-watched Week 9 contest since 2004 (Browns-Ravens: 7.71M).
That outcome is not entirely unexpected. The Patriots are without Tom Brady and aren’t nearly as good as they once were, and the Jets are still the Jets.
However, after putting the Patriots-Jets Monday Night Football debacle together with a disastrous season for Thursday Night Football and six straight weeks of single-digit numbers for Sunday Night Football, it’s clear that the NFL is no longer dominating primetime the way it once was.
The NFL has done comparatively better on Sunday, though, overall, ratings are still down seven percent from where they were at this point last year.
Even more disturbing for the league is that the anthem protests and social justice messaging that were so rampant at the beginning of the season have largely faded away. Yet, despite that, fans who were clearly turned-off by those protests have not returned. Which, of course, begs the question: Will they ever return?