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Thursday night’s season-opening matchup between the Chiefs and Texans attracted 19.3 million viewers between 8 and 11 p.m. That marks a 12.3% drop from last year’s ratings, which ended with an audience of 22 million. Deadline noted that the key 18-49 demographic pulled in a 5.2 rating, falling from last year’s 12.8 mark.
It is likely that multiple factors played into the drop, including social justice messages, which have been present, while audience sizes have reduced across all sports in recent months. An uncompetitive game — a 34-20 Chiefs win, during which they led by 24 in the fourth quarter — likely played a role. So too did unusual competition from an unprecedented sports calendar, which saw the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, MLB regular season, U.S. Open and college football all take place Thursday night.
NBC noted that with the digital platforms of their network and the NFL, the total audience delivery reached 20.3 million viewers.
Even though the Chiefs are coming off their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, the matchup between Kansas City and Houston doesn’t hold the same national appeal as last year’s game between the Packers and Bears. This also marked the first NFL season to kick off without a preseason game, perhaps reducing hype and awareness.