Any notion of declining interest in the Patriots took a hit on Sunday. As local audiences proved during the team’s season-opening win against the Texans, football in New England is still a popular choice.
According to CBS (which aired the Patriots game), Boston ranked as one of the station’s top five local markets in football TV ratings. The game garnered a 34.8 household rating and a 68 market share. The Patriots announced that the game averaged 1,416,900 local viewers.
As a whole, CBS ratings in local markets were up 23 percent from 2017 (couched in the fact that Hurricane Irma triggered abnormally low ratings a year ago). Still, the 2018 ratings were the station’s highest since 2015.
The Patriots-Texans opener was the “most-watched 1 p.m. season opener in the Nielsen LPM era (since 2002),” according to the Patriots. It was the second-highest rated opener, training only 2015’s Sunday night game against the Steelers.
While FOX also experienced a small ratings bump, NBC’s ratings were down. Though a rain delay might have played a role, the Thursday night NFL opener between the Eagles and Falcons saw a decline in ratings from the 2017 Patriots-Chiefs matchup.
President Donald Trump, who has frequently voiced disapproval of players taking a knee during the national anthem, blamed NBC’s ratings fall on the anthem issue.
“If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back?” asked Trump in a tweet. “Otherwise worse!”
No players on NBC broadcasts took a knee during the anthem in Week 1. The only players who did so, wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Miami Dolphins, were aired on FOX, which saw an increase in its audience.