While national TV ratings for NFL games are down this season, ratings for Seahawks' games remain comparable to 2016.
In the wake of NFL teams making statements of protest during the national anthem, attention will likely be paid to the league’s television ratings as much as ever in 2017 — especially after ratings slid a bit last year.
Nationally, ratings again are a little bit down. According to the Associated Press, national ratings are off 11 percent from 2016 through three weeks after dipping about eight percent last season. Week 3’s ratings, however, were up year over year, per Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch.
Locally, though, ratings for Seahawks’ games are up slightly from last season, according to data from Q13 FOX, which has televised each of the first three games. According to their data, this year’s three games have an average rating of 39.0 while the ratings for the first three games last season was 38.6.
And the numbers are a pretty apples-to-apples comparison since each season each of the first three games were on Sunday afternoons in either the 1:05 p.m. or 1:25 p.m. time slot (games that air in the 10 a.m. Sunday slot typically do a little worse than those in the afternoon, and games on Sunday/Monday/Thursday nights often do better since they are in prime time and usually against more marquee opponents).
However, Sunday’s game against Tennessee was down some, with a rating of 35.8 after the first two games had an average of 40.7.
So was it the anthem protest — or at least the knowledge that something might be coming — that held down the rating for Sunday’s game?
As USA Today details, there are lots of theories out there about why ratings are down, notably cord cutting, which is impacting ratings for just about everything on TV.
And as that story and others reveal, some ratings are up. As USA Today wrote: “CBS said viewership of its Week 3 games rose 4% over last year, with its afternoon games (4:25 p.m. ET kickoff) including the Green Bay Packers’ overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers being the highest-rated NFL game of the week.”
ESPN also noted that its rating for Monday night’s Dallas-Arizona game was the second-highest in the last two years. It was also the highest-rated Week 3 Monday night game in the last three seasons, according to Deitsch.
Winning often plays as big of a factor in local ratings as anything — the Seahawks’ numbers have always been strong since the team’s revival under Mike Holmgren in the mid-2000s and have been off the charts since the rise in 2012 under Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks’ preseason ratings this year were also higher than last season suggesting that interest in the team this season has been as great as ever.
But more telling will likely be the numbers going forward with the Seahawks off to a 1-2 start, coupled with the protests.
Sunday marks the first of the Seahawks’ four scheduled prime time games this season, a 5:30 p.m. kickoff against the Colts for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
It won’t just be the score that a lot of people will be anxious to see.