A huge 'Monday Night Football' boosted NFL ratings, despite Trump comments

TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football Down in Week 3

To make matters worse, Week 2 kicked off with a monotonous Thursday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans, a clash which culminated in a 13-10 slog.

Despite presidential controversy amid a prominent NFL protest movement, and a tepid "Sunday Night Football," a large audience for "Monday Night Football" actually propelled the NFL's third week into a year-over-year ratings improvement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

THE FACTS: NFL games shown to a national audience averaged 16.04 million viewers for the first two weeks of this season, down 11 percent from the 18.1 million people who watched during the same period previous year, the Nielsen company said. And are the NFL's TV ratings sinking overall?

This will be hard to explain for the people who complain about NFL protests and like to take credit for the drop in the league's television ratings: With more protests and demonstrations in Week 3 than any other week in NFL history, ratings were up.

For whatever reasons people choose to attribute to the NFL's ratings stumble, now more than a year old and something that will surely continue this season, it is not a problem that can really be diagnosed over a single weekend - let alone one game.

There may also be some evidence that Trump's feud with the National Football League anthem kneelers has caused viewers to tune in at the beginning of the game to see whether players stand or kneel, as ratings for pregame shows spiked significantly from past year.

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The ratings dip was always overblown.

While the ratings service ComScore can not measure overnight ratings, numbers from week one of the National Football League season are in.

The network's decision to show the national anthem ahead of games no doubt played into that massive increase, with viewers tuning in to see how teams would react to President Donald Trump's remarks about players who kneel during the anthem. Nielsen will release viewership data on Tuesday.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color", Kaepernick said, to NFL.com at the time. The show began with a shot of the sidelines of the Ravens-Jaguars game in London that had already started, followed by cast intros and host Sam Ponder "introducing Trump's "son of a bitch" comment (with no bleeps) at an Alabama rally".

Patriots players take a knee during the national anthem. ESPN, which also abandoned some of its usual pregame chatter to talk politics, plans to air the anthem live on "Monday Night Football".

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