Andy Reid's Chiefs' loss to the Titans drew the lowest rating of the weekend.

The ratings news is in for the first round of the NFL playoffs, and it doesn’t look great for the networks and the NFL, with every single game suffering double-digit drops year over year relative to comparable slots.

First, the Tennessee Titans-Kansas City Chiefs broadcast on ESPN and ABC Saturday afternoon was a big year-over-year drop:

Meanwhile, Saturday’s evening game between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams also fell year-over-year:

And on Sunday, both CBS’ Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game (early afternoon) and Fox’s Carolina Panthers-New Orleans Saints game (late afternoon) took a year-over-year hit:

When “only down 15 per cent” is good news, the news isn’t all that good. Of course, some of this may have to do with the teams involved. Let’s consider the media market sizes. The Panthers actually do well out of that, as they can claim Charlotte (23) and Raleigh-Durham (25), but those two add up to just under 2.3 million households, a long way from New York’s 7 million. (Not all of which are Giants’ fans, obviously, but a big media market like that helps.) Milwaukee’s the 36th-ranked market nationally, but the Packers have a large national fanbase, and New Orleans is 51st-ranked and has less of a national fanbase. So it’s understandable why that game might be lower based solely on the teams if everything else was equal.

In other media market comparisons, Titans-Chiefs is 27-33 versus Texans-Raiders’ 7-8, and Jaguars-Bills is 42-53 versus Steelers-Dolphins’ 24-16. Rams-Falcons is actually an improvement over Seahawks-Lions (2-9 versus 12-14), but that loses some impact considering how new the Rams are to Los Angeles in their current incarnation. And this gets really bad when you consider that four of the eight teams in the wild card round held four of the 10 slots as the worst national TV draws last year, with the Titans and Jaguars #1 and #2 there, the Saints seventh, and the Falcons tenth. (By contrast, last year’s wild card round only had two of those teams, the #4 Dolphins and #9 Texans.) So there are some reasons for the ratings to be down based solely on matchups, and it’s worth noting that these are still excellent ratings compared to the rest of TV.

However, there should be some concerns here for the NFL and its broadcasters, as this follows a regular season where NFL ratings dropped 9.7 per cent overall (and from a 2016 season that was already down from its predecessor, too).The playoffs clearly haven’t reversed that narrative so far, and have plunged perhaps even deeper year-over-year. Maybe that’s about the matchups, and maybe it will change once teams like the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers swing into action next week. Or maybe this is just further proof that the NFL’s ratings aren’t where they once were, and that the downward trend extends to the playoffs too.

[Sports Business Daily]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • Walt_Gekko

    Cord cutting likely is a big reason for the drop as other TV shows are actually down worse. I also suspect the markets of the teams playing as well as it mostly being teams that don’t have big, national followings did not help plus the big cold snap coupled with a “bomb cyclone” that hit much of the east and likely had many without power over Thursday and Friday all played a part as well.

    • Son of Rusty Shackleford

      You gave us every possible reason except the main one that’s been true since last year—a lot of us just don’t give a damn about the SJWNFL anymore.

      • Walt_Gekko

        Those who don’t care anymore are actually a MUCH smaller number than cord cutters. If it were what you said, other shows would not be down NEARLY as much as they are (and those are in practically ALL cases MUCH FURTHER than ANY NFL broadcast). The cord cutters are a MUCH bigger number than many realize.

        • Dee Snutz

          I like TO capitalize ARBITRARY words for EFFECT.

  • A few more games like Jags-Bills and they will start subtracting ratings from past seasons as a punishment.

    • Shame Hannity

      That Jags-Bills game was awful. On the plus side, I had a great nap the entire second half!

  • bibliomaine

    The wildcard weekend featured “teams that don’t have big, national followings.” If only the Bears and Giants had played late Saturday, the Raiders and Jets late Sunday.

  • mrpresident

    Bitter cold through much of the country this weekend. Many hunkered down in their homes…not watching football.

  • Super Mateo

    I attempted to give the NFL another chance. Watched TEN/KC, not too bad except for all the useless screaming from Chiefs’ fans whenever the Titans have the ball. It’s quite a waste of fans’ energy, but more power to them.

    But then that BUF/JAX game happened. It sure looked like the referees were insisting that Buffalo wasn’t going to win. They took the Bills right out of the game. Taylor gets tackled by the neck and had his head hit hard against the ground. Instead of being a 15 yard penalty on Jacksonville, like it should have been, no flag was thrown. Instead, Buffalo was penalized with a 10 second runoff. That’s BS. That led to the alleged “interception” that ended it. I’ve seen enough. NFL management is clueless right now. The rules make no sense. Calls are becoming somewhat random. They might as well be playing Calvinball.

    They should have fired Goodell. He has sold out the league, and now the league is paying for it because fewer are watching.

  • sportsfan365

    What’s so surprising about the playoff trend following the trend of the other 17 weeks? The people who turned off their TV this year are never going to turn it back on, regardless of their reason for doing it.

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