20.3 million watch Texans-Chiefs opener

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The NFL has loaded several great games into the first week of the 2020 regular season. Texans-Chiefs, a rematch of a 51-31 postseason blowout, was not one of those great games. Lack of kickoff-game sizzle notwithstanding, the game delivered because pro football always delivers.

According to NBC, the opening game averaged 20.3 million viewers across all platforms, based on preliminary numbers. Of that amount, 970,000 watched the game through digital means, the highest ever for a non-Super Bowl and a 55-percent increase over last year’s 627,000 for the season opener.

The audience crossed the 20 million threshold even though the Chiefs won easily, taking a 14-7 lead in the first half and never looking back. The audience peaked at 22.0 million between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. ET.

And the numbers would have been higher, if the matchup had been better (the Texans simply aren’t a team with a national following), if the game had been closer (the Chiefs led 24-7 entering the fourth quarter), and if 3.3 million viewers hadn’t been watching NBA or NHL playoff games, due to the unprecedented overlap of basketball and hockey postseasons with football season.

From the league’s perspective, there weren’t many options better than the Texans for the Kansas City home opener when the schedule was set. The only other compelling opponent entering Week One (some games may become more compelling as the season unfolds) would have been the Patriots, but as of early May their starting quarterback was Jarrett Stidham, not Cam Newton.

As a result, the numbers dropped from last year’s Packers-Bears showdown to start the NFL’s 100th season. Those who want to blame the reduced numbers on league, team, and player sensitivity to social justice will ignore the reality that, this year, the game simply wasn’t as attractive. So maybe, when it comes to picking the first game of the season, the defending Super Bowl champion no longer should have dibs.

Indeed, if the 2020 opener had been Buccaneers-Saints, featuring Tom Brady‘s first game with a team other than the Patriots, the numbers would have been dramatically higher.

That’s the ultimate reality when it comes to viewership. One game doesn’t define a season. Given everything that’s currently happening in the world, the fact that the NFL delivered more than 20 million viewers at the same time watching the same thing for the first time since the pandemic was declared is significant, and it cements the reality that nothing gathers a huge crowd for a live event like the NFL.

52 responses to “20.3 million watch Texans-Chiefs opener

  1. Everyone I know watched the game.

    Anyone who boycotted the game just doesn’t care enough about the sport.

  2. As long as professional sports continues to mix politics with entertainment it will continue to affect the fan base. It doesn’t matter if its the Oscars or the NFL
    – regular folks want an escape from the things that divide us.

  3. With the whole country basically under house arrest Bengals vs Dolphins would have drawn big TV ratings!

  4. I watched just enough to confirm why I am not watching, then I turned it off. Sunday I will watch my favorite team, that I have watched for decades, and t will turn them off for the season when I see what I expect to see. Don’t suggest we aren’t football fans, being on this site and knowing the issues proves we care. I love my country.

  5. baldbuc says:
    September 12, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I turned it off as soon as all the divisive stuff started. The fake unity thing was the last straw.
    ———————————————————
    Isn’t unity is the opposite of divisive?

  6. I bet. Those are cooked numbers and represent all the geeks who streamed parts of it. I think the real numbers are tragically low and the owners have to be very worried about the bottom line.
    I watched pieces of it between hockey periods.
    I may be an avid football fan for 60 years, but they lost me. These players should be grateful they are making the huge money they are and leave it at that.

  7. Can’t remember the last time the United States was “united” when it came to racial issues.

    Like it or not, people have vastly differing perspectives on this kind of thing.

  8. Allen Adamczyk says:
    September 12, 2020 at 9:21 am
    Millionares playing a kids game while everyday people struggle to survive!? I’ve got more important things to do! Those who comment you don’t really care about the game need to get their priorities in order!!!
    ************************************************************************
    You have more important things to do? Apparently these things aren’t more important than taking your precious time to comment on a football site about a football game you didn’t watch. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to share.

  9. I don’t believe a bunch of you who say you are “done with the NFL”. What are you doing on PROFOOTBALLTALK.com if that’s the case?

  10. I dunno what it is about the Texans that are just so…boring. Crazy how a name change and uniform change can make the whole country apathetic. Go back to those awesome Oilers uniforms and change the name back to..you got it…the oilers, bring back the run and shoot and you have yourself a freaking bonafied prime time matchup. That warren moon offense against mahomes would be AWESOME

  11. the nhl playoffs and the nba playoffs being on now instead of in the summer is the real difference year on year. not the protests, despite all the quacks and hacks who say they have given up football watching but continue to read and comment on profootballtalk.

  12. I will definitely watch Pack games, but wont be watching pregame post-game or NFL network until they can just talk about the Football. All this talk does is divide the country more and more. Also being called a racist 24 hours a day is tiring. LETS JUST PLAY THE GAME!

  13. NFL wagering and fantasy football leagues will help keep viewers engaged in this sport. There are NBA and Stanley cup finals going on as well taking a few eyeballs away. The protesting has cost this sport its true hard core fans who have decided not to spend a single dime on merch, tickets, directv packages and more. They are done with the kneeling during the anthem.

  14. Shouldnt the headline be NFL viewership down over 1 million viewers from last year’s opening game?

    ———-

    Yeah because advertisers won’t pay for a measly 20 million viewers……

  15. Just curious how GB vs Chicago is more alluring than KC vs Houston. In whose opinion? Mahomes vs Watson isn’t more intriguing than Rodgers/Trubisky? Americans don’t like to be told what to think. We summarily reject it. Honesty & integrity surrounding a stance is crucial to it becoming widely accepted. Don’t tell me what to think, explain to me honestly how the way I’m thinking is flawed. Change my opinion. Don’t try to force me to accept yours or you will find the very people you need help from to effect change have stopped listening

  16. ..”Pro Football always delivers…”??

    Really?! How about all of those Thurs nite color rush games between two 4-9 teams at the bottom of their divisions?
    Yeah, thats compelling competition right there.

  17. If you are in this comment section saying you didnt watch the game….1. Your probably lying. 2. You really wanted to. Thats why you’re on pft.com first thing this morning. you need your football fix. Stop torturing yourself. We all love the game and will at least be watching our fav team on sunday. And if you really boycott then you’re just missing out.

    Lastly, the entire broadcast isnt about politics. Dont watch the opener and enjoy the game. That simple.

  18. My interest has flagged. I knew it was NFL Opening Night but I just never got interested enough and pretty much just forgot about it. I opted out of my Jaguars season tickets this year and won’t renew next year…the NFL has about lost this long time fan.

    I know- don’t let the door hit me on the way out, etc. but I think there’s going to be a lot of us heading out that door.

  19. As has been said, fans are not against equality. They simply don’t want to be scolded for stuff for which they’re not responsible.

  20. Come on, this is “Capitalism 101”. When you have a business (NFL), you cater it to your customer base (NFL Fans). Your customers are the ones who purchase your goods and services and make you and your partners (Sponsors) wealthy.

    The NFL is now doing the opposite. They are catering to their employees (NFL players) and Sponsors. The NFL is now alienating their customer base who will no longer watch (and eventually attend) the games in the same numbers as before all the politicalization. Less people watching means less money for the business and partners.

    The NFL better figure this out and fast or they will be in trouble.

  21. Considering that people have very little else to do in several major cities, I would say that a 12% drop in television viewers is fairly significant. When you factor in the the streaming audience it was a total drop of 11%. I agree that the NFL is a huge draw. However, I also have to say that I’m usually all geared up for the season, but since the Covid crap, it somehow just doesn’t seem as exciting. I’m still gonna watch because I love the game, but it feels “different.” Time will tell if the drop was a anomaly. IMO

  22. Who knew that displaying a sense of unity would be considered divisive by so many? I have no idea what’s going on with our species at this point.

  23. “I prefer my football with less politics please and thank you.”

    Promoting unity and equality is not and should not be political. That politicans and the media promote it as a political tool to keep the country divided is abhorrent.

  24. “As has been said, fans are not against equality. They simply don’t want to be scolded for stuff for which they’re not responsible.”

    Obviously some fans are against equality. Look at the booing of the unity meeting. Look at the constant comments here about “obeying authority”, without one hint of concern about that authority overstepping its bounds.

    Unfortunately, there are all too many fans who would prefer that African-Americans remain in their place, as those fans see it.

  25. Is it too much to ask for 3 to 4 hours that we can enjoy football as an escape from the real world? There are plenty of hours during the week and media outlets outside of football to focus on the serious issues facing society.

  26. So… while one team is displaying “unity”, the other team is hiding in the locker room. Doesn’t anybody see the irony there? The players on the field aren’t even united, never mind the country.

  27. It was the lowest rated season opener in the last ten years, according to Deadspin. This trend will continue, much like the MLB and NBA. And, yes, it is because of the politics. More people are at home right now than ever before.

  28. Just curious how GB vs Chicago is more alluring than KC vs Houston. In whose opinion? Mahomes vs Watson isn’t more intriguing than Rodgers/Trubisky? Americans don’t like to be told what to think. We summarily reject it. Honesty & integrity surrounding a stance is crucial to it becoming widely accepted. Don’t tell me what to think, explain to me honestly how the way I’m thinking is flawed. Change my opinion. Don’t try to force me to accept yours or you will find the very people you need help from to effect change have stopped listening

    No truer words have been spoken on here.

  29. It’s absolutely believable that some people will stop watching yet come here to comment on it. Just like I can’t stand to watch baseball, but do follow my fav team.

    Pregame show ratings will be abysmal tomorrow. Games TBD…..

  30. The “can we escape reality”. “Can we take out the politics”. “This is tiring” people. You’re basically telling people to shut up and play ball.

  31. You’re telling me that the reason for the drop in rating was because Deshaun vs Mahomes wasn’t as compelling as Rodgers vs Trubisky. Yea right.

  32. When someone goes to their doctor’s office, do they ask him who he’s voting for or if he supports protecting our police officers? That’s so awkward. For another example, would you talk to your boss or dentist about which social justice cause they support? It’s not appropriate. People watch sports just for entertainment, period.

  33. The NFL is facing a reckoning, the most loyal fans are older men that are turned off by politics and the emerging teen and 20’s demographic of Generation Z has no interest in watching football. They would rather play video games or watch streams of other people play video games.

  34. We watched every second of the game, and will continue to watch the greatest entertainment in the world. I’d guess this year will no different from any other year, and the NFL will once again break their own revenue record. I guess the politically correct crowd that threatens to boycott is just blowing smoke.

  35. For years in October, we would watch the NFL have the league wear pink to support breast cancer. During those times, I heard not a peep from fans saying they would no longer watch the NFL. I guess because so many people either know someone close to them of a family member that had been affected by that terrible disease. I know I do. But I guess now that racial inequality doesn’t affect everyone, they can’t stand to watch players trying to make a change to a problem that is obvious and only affects specific people. Makes no sense at all.

  36. It would take a lot to get us to stop watching sports but we’re getting close. I called AT&T to make sure they didn’t automatically renew Sunday Ticket for us, something they call a “convenience” and they raised my bill 10 bucks a month.

    I’m about to cancel that too.

  37. Cancer is not political, unlike the topics on gender, race, and religion. I’m not sure why some people just don’t know the difference.

  38. So… while one team is displaying “unity”, the other team is hiding in the locker room. Doesn’t anybody see the irony there? The players on the field aren’t even united, never mind the country.
    ———————–
    Huh? The displaying unity part was when both teams locked arms together and stood in a line in the center of the field. Guessing you missed that???

  39. People are really telling on themselves in the comments…”being lectured to, scolded, called racist…”

    I’m an older white person and don’t feel any of those things watching players kneel, stand, or have a show of unity.

    So maybe it’s really THOSE OF YOU that feel that way that are the problem, hmmm?

  40. I come here hoping for a sign the players will realize kneeling for the anthem is wrong. The Anthem is there to show unity. kneeling is just wrong on so many levels

    I agree the police need serious reforms. The point has more than been made.
    The kneeling is only dividing

    It’s time for action What that is no one knows

    The Constitution only has a provision for a Sheriff No police forces.
    Are they unconstitutional? some say yes

    Maybe action is to sue and find out.

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