After two years of declining television ratings, the early numbers from Thursday night's season opener between the Eagles and Atlanta Falcons can't be the start the NFL was hoping for.
According to numbers provided by NBC, the Eagles-Falcons primetime opener drew a 13.4 overnight rating, down eight percent from last year's NFL kickoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.
There were a number of factors that conspired to impact the game's television ratings, including a subpar first half and a severe thunderstorm that delayed kickoff for nearly an hour. According to NBC, the audience peaked late in the first quarter, posting a 14.8 overnight rating.
According to Sports Media Watch, it's the lowest overnight rating for a season opener in 10 years, when the 2008 kickoff game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins was moved to 7 p.m. so it ended prior to Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention for the party's presidential nomination.
"No way to spin that other than disappointing for the league and network," The Athletic's Richard Deitsch wrote on Twitter. "We'll see what Sunday brings."
The number might be low from an NFL ratings perspective, but it still easily dominated its primetime competition, more than doubling the combined primetime overnight rating (6.7) of ABC, NBC and FOX. It was also the highest-rated sporting event since the 2018 Winter Olympics, beating out the NBA Finals, which drew a 12.7 rating during Games 2 and 3.
Not surprisingly, the top market was Philadelphia, which posted a 32.9 rating on NBC10, which equates to an estimated 944,000 households watching the game. New Orleans (24.6) drew a higher overnight rating than Atlanta (19.8).
NBC fared much better on the streaming side, where Thursday night's game was the most-streamed in the history of Sunday Night Football. According to NBC, the average minute audience (AMA) for the season opener was 570,000 viewers, up more than 60 percent from last year's NFL Kickoff game (355,000 viewers).