The first 14 games of Week One featured eleven decided by one score or less, six by fewer than a field goal, and four by only one point. The four teams that played on Monday night didn’t get the memo.
Both games featured margins of victory larger than any of the Thursday or Sunday games, with Pittsburgh beating Washington by 22 and San Francisco shutting out the Rams, 28-0.
Those numbers helped contribute to less impressive viewership numbers. According to SportsBusiness Daily, the ratings for the early game dropped from 9.8 in 2015 (Eagles-Falcons) to 9.1 for Steelers-Washington. The late game had an even bigger decline, with last year’s Vikings-49ers 9.5 shrinking to 7.1 for Rams-49ers.
Yes, with the Rams back in the nation’s No. 2 media market, the audience for a game that swapped out Minnesota for L.A. from one year to the next saw a 2.4-point drop in ratings. Via Richard Deitsch of SI.com, the total audience fell from 14.3 million to 10.3 million.
The quality of the game surely contributed to the decline. But last year’s 20-3 drubbing of the Vikings by the 49ers was a snooze-fest, too. It nevertheless drew four million more eyeballs. (Actually eight million, if we exclude the cyclops demographic.)
That’s still better than the ESPN college football game from a week earlier between Florida State and Mississippi, which had 8.3 million viewers. So the NFL is still the king, even when the most compelling moment in one of the games came when a fan ran onto the field.