green bay packers-dallas cowboys

Interpreting NFL ratings has gotten complicated. Any analysis of who’s watching (and not watching) the NFL now requires a review of what that means for the sport, its players and American politics. But amid all that smog, we are still left with a simple truth: If you put two good teams with big stars and storied histories with large fanbases in a time slot with little competition, a whole lot of people will watch.

According to Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp, Sunday’s Packers-Cowboys game on Fox drew a 15.0 overnight rating.

Update: We originally interpreted from Karp’s tweet that Packers-Cowboys was the highest rated game of the season. Karp has since clarified that that was not the case.

We’re not going to try too hard to tell you what this means. Given Colin Kaepernick and the Donald Trump-NFL feud and the #BoycottNFL movement, everyone wants to use all ratings news to support whatever they believe about the direction of the NFL. It can be hard to figure out whether strong ratings for the league represent a denouncement of the president or apathy about concussions or support for politics in sports or something else entirely. You can’t mention football viewership — positive or negative — without someone questioning your motives. NFL ratings have somehow become deeply political.

Regardless of all that, Cowboys-Packers was exactly what the NFL needed. Dallas and Green Bay are two of the most popular teams in the league and were both popular preseason picks to win the NFC (even if Dallas hasn’t quite looked the part yet). Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are the types of players viewers tune in to watch. And as if all that wasn’t enough, the game was close throughout, with the Packers winning 35-31 on a touchdown pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams with 11 seconds to play. In a relatively light 4 p.m. ET slot, that was more than enough to draw a huge audience.

So yes, a lot of people watched an exciting game between two compelling teams. We will not dare try to offer any other takeaway.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Dan

    According to Austin Karp on Twitter, the Cowboys-Packers yesterday didn’t draw as well as Cowboys-Broncos in week 2.

    Austin Karp @AustinKarp
    Need to clarify here. NOT A HIGH FOR FOX OR NFL SEASON. Just high for this weekend. Fox’ Cowboys-Broncos in Week 2 did a 16.1 overnight https://twitter.com/AustinKarp/status/917402546247004160