The two Monday Night Football games this week were not big hits in terms of ratings. According to The Wrap, both games dropped in viewers by double digits compared to last year. The first game — the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the New York Giants — drew 10.8 million viewers, which is down 17% from last season's first MNF game, the Houston Texas vs. New Orleans Saints. The late game between the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos had 7.7 million viewers, a 27% decrease from the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders vs. Denver Broncos game last year.
There are several factors the come into play. For the Steelers-Giants game, the 10.8 million views was an increase from the 2018 corresponding game, which was the Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets. Also, the game was the biggest cable audience since the coverage of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address from Fox News back in February.
The Wrap also took a lot of ratings from some of the top games from Week 1. The biggest game of Sunday afternoon was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Saints, which was Tom Brady's debut in a Bucs uniform. The game drew 25.9 million which was Fox's best Week 1 matchup in four years. However, Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams game on Sunday night had a little 19 million viewers, a 15% decline from last year.
The question is why did ratings for the season premiere of Monday Night Football go down significantly this year? Some would argue that players protesting is playing a part in the declining ratings for all sports. However, another aspect is the COVID-19 pandemic has led to sports being pushed back a few months, and now all sports are going on at the same time. On Monday night, the NFL was competing with the MLB and NBA.
Next Monday (Sept. 21), the Saints will travel to Las Vegas to face the Raiders in the brand new Allegiant Stadium. With both teams coming off big wins, the game could be an entertaining one, which could lead to an improvement in ratings. However, the one Monday night game every NFL fan has circled on their calendar is the Week 3 (Sept. 28 ) matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. The top two quarterbacks in the; league will be featured in Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs and Lamar Jackson for the Ravens.