The NFL can’t seem to get through a single week without some sort of controversy getting stuck to it. Endless suspensions, arcane league policies, massive double standards and head-scratching decisions appear to pop up daily and with a seemingly far greater frequency than the three other major pro leagues combined.
But if Thursday night’s season opening game between the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers was any indication, when it comes time for actual games to be played, the sporting public hardly cares at all.
The Seahawks 36-16 win was watched on NBC by 26.9 million viewers, up seven percent from last year’s “NFL Kickoff’’ between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos and the third-most watched “NFL Kickoff’’ in the 13 years of the event’s existence. According to fast national data released Friday by the Nielsen Company, the game was television’s most watched show since the 2014 Academy Awards, which drew 43.7 million viewers back in early March.
The game earned a household rating of 15.5/26 nationally, also good for third best in “NFL Kickoff’’ history. And not to be outdone, NBC cleaned up in the digital department too, with fans live streaming a combined 25 million minutes, good for the most traffic for any event in NBC Sports Digital history not including the Olympics or the Super Bowl.
It probably helped that there wasn’t much else on in the way of original programming. But make no mistake: no matter how odious the NFL can be off the field, the action on the field remains as powerful and as popular as ever.