'Monday Night Football' ratings down from 2017

Ratings for the first installment of “Monday Night Football” are in, and the news isn’t great for the NFL. Once again, ratings for prime-time football have slid from 2017.

Prime-time ratings decline

Ratings for the New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions game came in at 7.5, while Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders clocked at 7.0, marks which denote the percentage of homes in the country tuned into the game. That’s down 4 percent from 2017, but it’s worth noting that last year’s totals were affected by Hurricane Irma coverage … meaning the decline could be even more significant. Those totals were down from 2016.

It’s part of a trend of declining ratings for prime-time games; both “Sunday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football” this past week saw declines from 2017.

Matt Stafford and the Lions didn’t put on much of a show, and plenty of people tuned out. (AP)

Are protests the reason for the decline?

Probably not. While it’s indisputable that the protests during the national anthem have had a negative effect on the perception of the NFL, that’s a very different matter than the ratings for the league. Plenty of people who have negative perceptions of the league as a result of protests weren’t NFL fans in the first place. Plus, saying that protests harmed “MNF’s” ratings doesn’t take into account the fact that ratings for Sunday’s daytime games were as much as 23 percent better than last year.

More likely, the declining ratings are a result of larger factors. The games both stunk, for one thing; the stench of both the Lions and the Raiders will linger for weeks. Plus, ratings are down for every form of television, not just NFL. And it’s worth noting that the NFL’s ratings still dwarf those of any other program on television.

There’s no reason whatsoever for the NFL to celebrate the decline of ratings for its flagship football program. But then again, there’s no reason to assume this is a herald of impending doom, either.

Bottom line: watch the games if you want to, don’t if you don’t.

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