Is The NFL Boycott Going To Completely Kill Televised Football?

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On a day full of criticism from Donald Trump, political protests, linked arms, players taking a knee or not coming on the field at all during the national anthem, and renewed pleas for unity from the league, NBC and the NFL took a ratings hit on Sunday Night Football.

In metered market numbers, the primetime matchup that saw the Washington Redskins beat the Oakland Raiders 27-10  snared an 11.6/20, the worst SNF has performed this season so far. It’s an 8% dip from the early numbers of last week’s game, Atlanta’s 34-23 win over Green Bay. Amid cheers and boos from fans at FedEx Field in Maryland last night, the third week of the SNF  season declined 10% from early numbers of the comparable game of last year on September 25, 2016.

Sunday’s SNF peaked with a 12.r5/20 during the second quarter from 9-9:30 PM ET. Still, NFL ratings are down double-digits this season so far after taking a similar tackle-for-loss last year. Add to that, Sunday’s game was the worst a Week 3 SNF has done in 11-years.

These SNF numbers come on top of a tense Sunday that saw games across the nation under a new spotlight: how would teams respond to Trump’s blasts of Friday at a speech in Alabama and on social media. Started by currently unemployed quarterback and then San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick more than a year ago, several NFL players have been publicly protesting police brutality and racial injustice by not standing for the national anthem.

It was a move the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host and football fan Trump decried, though the ever-ratings conscious POTUS later said in a tweet Sunday that linking arms was OK.

Linking arms is what the D.C team did last night, while nearly every single Raiders player stayed on the bench during the national anthem before the game on the Comcast-owned net.

The September 17 SNF game between the Falcons and Packers — originally reporting from 50 of 56 markets due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida, and up against the Emmy Awards —  went on to snag 20.2 million viewers. That final NBC viewership number was down 17% from the official SNF kickoff September 10.

Of course, while undoubtedly dominant, SNF wasn’t the only action Sunday on the small screen. Pushed back nearly 20 minutes because of NFL overruns, CBS had the Oprah Winfrey-debuting and 50th anniversary season premiere of 60 Minutes and the one and only broadcast of the new Star Trek Discovery, which will call CBS All Access home.

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