With millions of people stuck inside due to the coronavirus pandemic, the kickoff to the 2020 NFL season failed to capture a strong ratings share of TV viewers on Thursday night.
On an evening when Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, was not even half full because of the coronavirus pandemic, TV viewers chose to click elsewhere as players for both the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs engaged in social justice protests before the game.
The preliminary numbers for last night's prime-time game broadcast on NBC show that 16.4 million viewers tuned in to the game, which is a 16% drop in comparison with the kickoff to the 2019 season on Sept. 9 of last year. The figure marks a 10-year low for both NBC and the NFL.
That number should trend higher as the full scope of data from viewership is released later in the day, but the early figures are a worrying sign for an advertisement-rich league that is dependent on fan engagement.