TV Ratings: NFL Kickoff Ticks Down for Second Year in a Row

Thursday's game between defending Super Bowl champion New England Pariots and the Kansas City Chiefs earned an overnight 14.6 rating among households.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As the broadcast networks prepare for the launch of the new season, NFL football's return on Thursday gave NBC an early jolt.

The NFL season opener, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs upset the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, earned an overnight 14.6 rating among households. That's down from the 16.5 rating for the comparable outing last year, when the Denver Broncos battled the Carolina Panthers in a Super Bowl L rematch. The 25 share for Thursday's game was also down from last year's 29 share.

According to NBC's total audience delivery metric, 22.2 million viewers, down from 2016's haul of 25.4 million viewers, but up from Sunday Night Football's average for the 2016 season (20.5 million). (While airing on Thursday, the NFL kickoff game is always presented as Sunday Night Football. Thursday Night Football premieres next week on CBS and NFL Network.)

This is the second year in a row the first NFL game of the season has brought diminishing returns. The 2015 opener brought in a 17.7 rating among households, 21.4 million viewers and 7.4 rating among adults 18-49, when Tom Brady made a triumphant return following the "Deflategate" scandal and his subsequent four-game suspension, which was thrown out before the opener.

More eyes have been on NFL in recent years as broadcast networks like NBC and CBS  which will continue to split Thursday Night Football games this season  look to live programs to help bolster ratings. Viewership for NFL games in the 2016 regular season was down an average of eight percent. However, Sunday Night Football still ranked as the No. 1 show of the 2016-17 broadcast season in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 6.7 rating. (Thursday Night Football on NBC and CBS ranked second and fourth for the season, respectively.)

The official premiere of Thursday Night Football will see the Houston Texas go up against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sept. 8, 1:20 p.m.: Updated with total viewership.

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