‘Sunday Night Football’ Season Debut Ratings Fall From 2019 As LA Rams Score Hometown Win Over Cowboys

SoFi Stadium was devoid of fans on last night’s Sunday Night Football due to the coronavirus pandemic, but full of victory for the hometown Los Angeles Rams. Sadly, that winning feeling wasn’t reflected in the ratings for NBC and the NFL in SNF‘s season opener.

The team’s first game at its sparkling new $5 billion digs saw the Rams take down the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 in a grinding battle in which Rams running back Malcolm Brown score two touchdowns. Fighting right to the end against that wall of the Rams’ defense in a rough and tumble showdown, the Cowboys early on also saw starting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch exit with a collarbone injury. All in all, not a good start for Mike McCarthey’s first game as the Cowboys’ coach.

With all that on-field action, and coming off disappointing ratings of the NFL season kickoff on September 10, the league and the Comcast-owned network were looking for a win themselves this football packed weekend.

Even with the usual ratings gold of Jerry Jones’ team on the field, the NFL and NBC didn’t get that win – at least not in the early numbers. Despite two teams with big national followings, SNF snared a 4.7 in early ratings among adults 18-49 and 14.81 million viewers last night.

In numbers certain to change, that’s a fall of 28% in the demo and a hard decline of 23% in sets of eyeballs from the early numbers of the the September 8, 2019 SNF season debut. While the early Nielsen data lacks West Coast numbers — kind of important when you have a team from the Los Angeles market in the mix — his result is going to be hard pill for the NFL and NBC to swallow.

To add further context, last year’s opener, a 33-3 pummeling of the Pittsburgh Steelers by then reigning Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots, went on to pull in an audience of 22.2 million on NBC, which was pretty much even with SNF’s 2018 season premiere. That 2019 figure inched up to 22.7 million when digital platform viewing was added in.

At this point, last night’s SNF is down nearly 10% in both the key demo and in viewers from the early results of the the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Houston Texans in the league’s season opener Thursday night.

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Source: Deadline