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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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NBC’s NFL Kickoff Audience For Bills-Rams Drops 19%

  • Death of Queen Elizabeth II drew viewers to news programming.
  • Bills’ lopsided 31-10 win over Rams didn’t provide much drama.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Big news days and lopsided scores hurt sports TV ratings. Even those of the powerful NFL.

NBC Sports is projecting its coverage of the 2022 Kickoff Game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams averaged 21 million-plus viewers Thursday night across its linear and digital channels. 

That’s down around 19% from 26 million for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys season opener last year. 

Several factors could help explain the slump. 

First, as sports networks learned over the years, big news and controversy takes viewers away from sports.

Josh Allen’s Bills dominated Matthew Stafford and the Super Bowl champion Rams on the same day that 96-year old Queen Elizabeth II of England passed away after a historic 70-year reign. Her death was a global story — and some viewers remained glued to news channels like Fox and CNN.

Second, the Bills convincing 31-10 victory over the Rams didn’t provide much drama in the second half as Stafford turned the ball over and Alllen steamrolled the Rams defense.

“He’s a very special player, he’s a superstar, he can beat you with brains and brawn,” said NBC’s Chris Simms about the Bills’ young QB.

Conversely, the Bucs’s 31-29 win over the Cowboys last year was a thriller, with Tom Brady throwing four TDs in a come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory over Dak Prescott and America’s Team. 

NBC noted Bills-Rams had the largest scoring margin in a Kickoff game since 2013. 

The Peacock network will return to live NFL game coverage on Sept. 11, with Brady’s Bucs again taking on Prescott’s Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” (8 pm ET).

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