NFL Sees Drop in Ratings for Season Debut

September 21, 2016 Updated: September 21, 2016

Ratings for NFL games this season appear to have dropped since last year, according to a report.

This week’s “Monday Night Football” game featuring the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears saw an overnight rating of 8.3, which is an 11 percent drop form last year’s Week Two “Monday Night Football” matchup, according to NBC Sports. It’s also the lowest-rated “Monday Night” game since at least 2009.

Last week’s “Thursday Night Football” game between the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers surpassed 25 million viewers, which, in terms of general TV viewership, is significant. But it represents an 8 percent ratings decline compared to 2015, Forbes reported, citing Sports Media Watch. It’s also a 6 percent drop since 2014.

On Sunday afternoon, CBS had an overnight rating of 10.2 for its NFL games, which is a 13 percent drop on FOX from the 2015 numbers and a 9 percent drop from 2014 on CBS.

The “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots netted 20.65 million total viewers, marking an 18 percent decline in the coveted 18-49 demographic—compared with last September. But compared with other shows on cable, the viewership is still gigantic.

As the NFL season kicked off, there were calls on Twitter to boycott the league amid San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. However, it’s not exactly clear if the drop in ratings is linked to viewers’ displeasure over Kaepernick’s—and other players’—protest of the anthem. The term #boycottNFL trended on the social media network for several days.

The drop in ratings could be partially attributed to the retirement of quarterback Peyton Manning—arguably the most popular NFL player over the past decade—who hung up his cleats following the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory, as well as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serving out a four-game ban.