Nielsen Reports NFL Kickoff Attracts Fewest Viewers Since 2002

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September 5th, 2008

Nielsen puts last night's NFL kickoff game ratings between the NY Giants and the Washington Redskins in historical perspective:

Last night’s NFL Kickoff Game, between the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, attracted 13.5 million viewers, the smallest audience since 2002. 

Could it be that John McCain’s acceptance speech at the GOP Convention, which aired during primetime on the same night, cannibalized the NFL’s TV viewership?

Two other possibilities from Nielsen’s sports media analysts: viewers shut off their sets and watched streaming video of the game at NFL.com – or headed out to watch the game in a communal setting.

2007 NBC New Orleans at Indianapolis 11.4 17,471,000
2006 NBC Miami at Pittsburgh 12.6 19,043,000
2005 ABC Oakland at New England 11.7 18,008,000
2004 ABC Indianapolis at New England 11.4 16,888,000
2003 ABC N.Y. Jets at Washington 12.9 19,149,000
2002 ESPN San Francisco at N.Y. Giants 7.6 10,799,000
*US HH AA% : Percentage of US households - Average Audience during entire telecast

I think it's highly likely that it was the Republican National Convention that depressed the NFL ratings. I find the "Two other possibilities" from Nielsen rather amusing.  People watched via NFL.com instead of their TVs? Way too much internet kool-aid consumption evident in that guess. Headed out to watch in a communal setting? I'm sure plenty did, but 4 million more than last year? Were there giant communal Redskins & Giants gatherings nationwide? Probably not.

If it wasn't the convention, why not a simpler explanation? Maybe the game just wasn't that good. I can't comment on that because I didn't watch the game, but I know Robert, the Redskin fan, did.

Update: Alert commenter Mark mentions the obvious reason for the difference, a 7pm start time vs. an 8pm start time last year.

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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