With everyone paying attention to how the national anthem issue is affecting the NFL’s ratings, Thursday night’s Bears-Packers ratings will be closely monitored. Unfortunately for both sides, the numbers will not be easy to spin.
CBS and NFL Network combined for a 9.9 overnight rating. That makes the game the most-watched TV program in America last night, and it’s an increase over the 8.6 rating that CBS and NFL Network got from last year’s Bears-Packers Thursday night game, which was in Week Seven. It’s also a big increase over the 4.8 rating that last year’s Thursday night Week Four game received, although that game was only on NFL Network, not on CBS.
However, it’s also a decrease from the 10.6 overnight rating that last year’s first Thursday Night Football CBS game got. So compared to the first game of the shared CBS-NFL Network schedule last year, Bears-Packers was down.
It’s also particularly difficult to assess Thursday night’s game because there was a long weather delay that came after a first quarter that the Packers dominated. We don’t know how many people decided not to bother with the rest of the game once the weather delay started.
So if you want to claim NFL ratings are down because of the anthem issue, or up because people love football, Thursday night’s ratings give you some data to support your point of view and some data that conflicts with your point of view.