Ratings for the first game of the NFL’s 2018-19 season hit a nine-year low.
The Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles game on September 6 drew in 19 million viewers, falling 13 percent compared to the first game of the previous season, reported Deadline.
The viewership figures are the lowest for an opening game since 2009. The ratings also dropped among the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49; the 6.6 rating was a 14 percent drop from the Sept. 7, 2017 opening game.
Philadelphia led all markets with a 32.9 rating, followed by New Orleans at a 24.6, reported Sports Media Watch. Rounding out the top five was Atlanta (19.8), Denver (17.5), and Milwaukee (17.3).
The decline in NFL ratings has been attributed in part to the kneeling protests that started in 2016 and have continued to the present day. The protests, taking place during the National Anthem, have sparked a backlash among people who see them as unpatriotic.
On September 6th, only two players protested during the anthem. Michael Bennett, a defensive end with the Eagles, sat on the bench during the anthem, as did fellow Eagles player Jay Ajayi.
Bennett played last year for the Seattle Seahawks and regularly knelt during the Anthem, but stood before one game when the NFL was honoring the military.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who often raised a fist during the anthem last season, did not during the anthem before the opener.
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