‘Sunday Night Football’ Steady With Last Week In Early Ratings As Green Bay Packers Beat New Orleans Saints

It was a good win for the Green Bay Packers, but maybe even a bigger win for Sunday Night Football last night – at least compared to last week.

As well as breaking news from the New York Times of the long hidden reality of Donald Trump’s taxes and finances, Green Bay’s match up with the New Orleans Saints faced the determining game of the NBA Eastern Conference finals on ESPN on Sunday. The Miami Heat’s Game 5 win over the Boston Celtics sets up a classic Finals with the Florida team taking on LeBron James and the LA Lakers starting later this week. Last night, there were also high- profile debuts further up the cable dial with Season 4 of Fargo on FX and The Comey Rule on Showtime potentially nipping away at SNF.

Still, with all that, early numbers for SNF are almost the same as last week when NBC and the NFL’s flagship show faced the NBA playoffs and the 72nd Primetime Emmys. The unbeaten Packers’ 37-30 victory over Drew Brees and the Saints snared 14.43 million viewers and a 4.2 rating among adults 18-49 between the 8 – 11 PM ET.

Or put another way:

Those numbers are certain to shift upwards in later numbers, but right now the fast affiliates demo rating for September 27 are exactly the same as the September 20 SNF fast affiliates between the winning Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. In terms of viewers, last night’s 8:20 PM ET beginning gridiron battle is up 2.41% from the early unadjusted metrics of last week’s game in the 8 – 11 PM ET time period.

Hey, it’s small uptick, but coming off a pro-football season that has kicked off to constant declines, trust me the NFL and the Comcast-owned net are going to be happy. And, yes NBC easily won primetime last night with a 3.5 rating and 12.2 million viewers

However, to put that in further perspective, last night’s SNF is down just over 11% in early viewership results from the Week 3 game of last season.

Up against a then-record low Emmy Awards, the September 22, 2019 field fight between the victorious LA Rams and the Cleveland Browns scored a 5.4 rating among the 18-49s. Which means last night’s SNF was down over 22% in the demo from the comparable-ish game of the NFL’s 2019-20 season.

The double-digit year-to-year drops may seem alarming and having an impact upon the ever-sensitive Roger Goodell-run league. However, as others have pointed out as well, election years tend to have that effect on football numbers. Beyond the comparison to the hits of 2016, this year of near constant upheaval has also seen the coronavirus pandemic and crippling unemployment and financial distress – which may be proving a distraction from live sports, to put it mildly. On the flip side, the NBA finals were delayed because of COVID-19 concerns and are now also in the fray, which is a rarity unto itself.

When the dust had settled, this season’s September 20 SNF had 17.69 million viewers, including out of home, and a 5.2 rating among adults 18-49. So, expect to see similar movement from fast affiliates to fast nationals for that Packers vs. NOLA game when the final numbers come in. According to NBC, the total set of eyeballs on the September 20 game inched up to a total audience delivery of 18.4 million when digital viewers and additional platforms were added in.

We will update with more SNF numbers as we get them, but for the rest of last night’s early ratings, which was the start of the second week of the very different fall TV 2020-21 season, check out our chart below:

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