The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers “Thursday Night Football” game didn’t appear to garner a lot of local interest in the Bay Area.
A Los Angeles Times reporter tweeted a photo at kickoff before 5:30 p.m. local time, showing thousands of red seats in Levi’s Stadium. It appears there might be—in this angle—more empty seats than fans.
“The 49ers sold 63,500 tickets to this game. But 5:30 local start, being 0-2, vs a week opponent gives you this crowd,” tweeted ESPN reporter Darren Rovell.
The stadium is located in Santa Clara (near San Jose).
However, right before halftime, the seats appeared to fill up a bit more.
The Rams beat the 49ers 41-39.
With any drop in ratings or tickets, there’s speculation as to why. Some have said the national anthem protests—started by out-of-work quarterback Colin Kaepernick—are a primary culprit. According to a survey released by JD Power, as reported by ESPN, players’ protests against the national anthem and the American flag were the main reason why fans watched fewer games last season.
“The pollster said it asked more than 9,200 people who attended either one football, basketball or hockey game whether they tuned into fewer games and why. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason,” the ESPN report stated.
But others have noted that there’s been a decline in play, worry over the players’ health (namely head trauma), and too many breaks and commercials.
Last season saw an 8 percent decline in overall NFL viewership, according to reports.
Ratings on the NFL opening weekend had slid 12 percent over last year’s opener, which was attributed to the recent coverage of hurricanes. However, the second weekend showed a 15 percent drop in viewership, THR reported. It comes after an 8 percent overall ratings slump.
“Since the NFL season opened Sept. 7, shares of NBC parent Comcast are off 9 percent, ESPN parent Disney has seen its stock drop 3 percent and shares of CBS are down 5 percent,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote in a recent report, which said that analysists have said CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN could lose $200 million if ratings slide 10 percent this year. “Only shares of 21st Century Fox have risen in that time frame, up 2 percent.”
“Thursday Night Football” games, however, appear to have experienced an overall ratings increase over last season.
The Rams-49ers game had 7.4 million viewers, and last week’s Texans-Bengals game had 8.1 million viewers, NBC’s ProFootballTalk reported. The four NFL network Thursday games last year averaged 6.1 million viewers.