Thursday night’s season-opening matchup between the Chiefs and the Texans attracted 19.3 million viewers between 8 and 11 p.m. It is 12.3% lower than last year’s rating, ending with an audience of 22 million. Deadline noted that the major 18-49 demographic has fallen from the previous year’s 12.8 mark to 5.2 points.
It is likely that a number of factors were played out in the drop, including the social justice messages it currently holds, while audience size has decreased in all sports in recent months. An ineffective game – a 34–20 dominant win, during which he led 24 in the fourth quarter – likely played a part. Hence an unprecedented sports calendar also led to unusual competition, with NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, MLB regular seasons, US Open and college football all taking place on Thursday nights.
NBC noted that with their networks and the NFL’s digital platforms, total audience deliveries reached 20.3 million viewers.
Even though the Chiefs are coming to win their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, the matchup between Kansas City and Houston between the Packers and the Bears doesn’t have the same national appeal as last year’s game. This marked the first NFL season to kick off without a precision game, perhaps reducing publicity and awareness.