NFL logo during Bears-Panthers game
Aug 8, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; A closeup of the NFL shield on a goal post before the preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL season might have seen a bit of a downtick in terms of ratings over the course of the first three weeks. It really has been a mixed back for the league amid ongoing national anthem protests.

With that said, this latest information from NFL Media does indeed put everything into perspective. The league released NFL ratings data for the first three weeks of the 2020 season. What we learned wasn’t necessarily too surprising.

NFL ratings: League has 15 highest-rated TV shows after Week 3

Since the 2020 season started, the NFL has dominated television ratings compared to other broadcast networks. It’s not necessarily too close. Of the top 15, here are the five games that drew the highest NFL ratings.

  • Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (26.3 million)
  • Week 3: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (22.8 million)
  • Week 1: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (20.6 million)
  • Week 1: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (19.0 million)
  • Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (19.0 million)

Here’s the full press release.

This seems to suggest good news for the NFL. However, there’s a lot factors to look at here. You can’t compare NFL ratings to normal broadcasts on network stations. In reality, NFL ratings must be compared to NFL ratings. That’s where the five games mentioned above come into play.

Related: What to make of NFL ratings

Week 1 NFL ratings were down

  • Thursday Night Football”: This opener between the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on NBC was down a whopping 16.1% from the Bears-Packers opener last season.
  • Sunday Night Football”: Despite the Rams opening their new SoFi Stadium in Southern California against America’s Team in that of the Dallas Cowboys, NFL ratings were down north of seven million viewers from last season’s “Sunday Night Football” opener.

NFL ratings have been a mixed back since

For example, the Las Vegas Raiders’ home opener during “Monday Night Football” Week 2 was up a whole heck of a lot from a season ago. Of course, that could have to do with the Raiders opening Allegiant Stadium and playing their first ever game as a Las Vegas-based franchise.

One week earlier, the opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader saw a dramatic decrease in viewership on ESPN from a season ago.

What does this all mean? There’s a lot of factors to look at here. First off, President Donald Trump previously called out the NFL for the ongoing national anthem protests. There’s something to be said about a boycott from those that align with the President’s thinking.

Related: NFL to push back against President Trump?

Then again, a minimal decrease in TV ratings does not suggest that there’s a widespread boycott of games thus far this season. It will be more interesting to look at these numbers once the fall television schedule begins on the networks. That has been delayed to an extent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NFL ratings compared to other sports

As for the sports world, the NFL continues to dominate its competition. We’ve seen it with the league going up head-to-head against the NBA Playoffs in recent weeks.

There’s also a certain backdrop to all of this given that the NBA initiated the national anthem protests once its season resumed in late July. That actually included a boycott of games during the early stages of the postseason to support those who are fighting against police brutality in the United States.

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