BOSTON (CBS) — Though many are saying they’ll never watch the NFL again after a weekend filled with players taking a knee or silently protesting during the national anthem, ratings for Week 3 are actually expected to increase slightly compared to last season.
CBS is reporting a four percent increase from Week 3 of last season, including an 11 percent increase for their regional window during the 1pm slate of games.
Overall, ratings for Sunday’s games were down roughly four percent when you combine the coverage on Fox, CBS and NBC. But Week 3 ratings are expected to be up overall once the ratings for Monday night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game is factored into the equation.
What saw the biggest bump on Sunday was the pregame coverage on the networks, with CBS reporting a 33 percent increase in viewership for The NFL Today compared to last season. Together, the pregame shows on CBS and Fox saw a 19 percent increase compared to last year.
The network’s decision to show the national anthem ahead of games no doubt played into that massive increase, with viewers tuning in to see how teams would react to President Donald Trump’s remarks about players who kneel during the anthem.
Players across the league took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday, including roughly 20 players on the New England Patriots. Some teams chose to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
If the NFL is going to feel any decrease in viewership, it will likely happen in Week 4. But with several exciting finishes in Week 3, viewership may not suffer all that much.