NFL’s Thursday and Sunday primetime games this past week saw viewership dips compared to 2019.
While some pundits might blame the drop on the league’s support of social and racial justice activism, it should be noted the weekend was unusually full of sports. Thursday’s game — which saw a 13% viewership decline — occurred alongside a Los Angeles Lakers playoff game, NHL playoffs, and a Serena Williams US Open match.
Opening Weekend Primetime Viewership:
- Thursday Night’s NFL Kickoff Game: Viewership was down 13% from 2019 with 19.3 million viewers. Out-of-home viewing, a new Nielsen metric, eventually did bump the total up to 20.5 million viewers.
- NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”: Early reports suggest the game drew 15.2 million average total viewers, but the fast-national ratings don’t include major West Coast markets, including Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Rams played the Dallas Cowboys. The viewership was 21% down from the 2019 Sunday night debut.
While viewership dropped, Fanatics reported a 35% year-over-year online sales increase during opening weekend. At the top of the list: Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey. Cam Newton’s New England Patriots jersey was just 50 units behind Brady’s heading into the weekend, according to Fanatics founder Michael Rubin.
Fanatics Opening Weekend Top-Selling Jerseys:
- Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
- Patriots QB Cam Newton
- Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
- Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
- 49ers DE Nick Bosa