This NFL season there have been people that have been watching less and less NFL than ever before. It’s a situation that the league could have avoided but they just jumped right off the cliff on instead.
This is something that has been a long time coming. Around the middle of October, I had a friend of mine who had to spend a couple of days at a VA Hospital near where he lived for a minor surgical procedure.
He was thankfully ambulatory and was trying to stave off boredom by walking around the halls of the hospital. It was a Sunday and he said that he walked past about ten rooms on his way to an elevator that all had televisions on and NONE of them were playing an NFL game.
The NFL playoffs couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the league, at least in terms of ratings. Every game in the opening wild-card round of the NFL playoffs suffered from double-digit drops in ratings, despite an intriguing slate of games.
Arguably the most exciting game of the weekend was between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs, with the Titans storming back from an 18-point deficit aided by quarterback Marcus Mariota miraculously throwing a touchdown pass to himself at one point.
For all the excitement and suspense, Titans-Chiefs ended up being the least-watched NFL playoff game in five years.
Titans-Chiefs drew a 14.7 rating overnight, a steep drop from last year’s comparable Oakland Raiders-Houston Texans 16.6 rating, via Awful Announcing. That number looks even worse when considering the quarterbacks who suited up for that Raiders-Texans tilt.
Due to an injury to Derek Carr, the Raiders were forced to trot out Connor Cook, while the Texans tried to get by with a patchwork performance from Brock Osweiller and Tom Savage. Mariota and former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith were outdone by Connor Cook, Brock Osweiller and Tom Savage?
The Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams matchup didn’t fare much better. The Falcons-Rams game netted a 14.9 rating, also down from last year’s Detroit Lions-Seattle Seahawks game, which drew a 16.5.
That’s a shockingly poor rating for an exciting young team like the Rams in one of the country’s biggest TV markets, facing off with the reigning and defending NFC champion Falcons.
Sunday fared only slightly better for the NFL and its broadcast partners. With the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills facing off in a game between two teams suffering from lengthy playoff droughts, the game netted a 17.2 rating.
While certainly better than Saturday’s offering, the 17.2 rating was still a 10 percent drop from the previous year’s match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins. This one might be slightly more explicable considering that the Steelers are one of the most popular franchises in the NFL.
The NFL’s wild-card ratings peaked with a Sunday afternoon game between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
The final game of the weekend drew a 20.4 rating, which was a 15 percent drop from the previous year’s New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game that drew a 24.0 rating. Overall, these ratings continues a worrisome trend for the NFL and its affiliates since 2016. NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent across the board this season, after already falling 8 percent in 2016.