We saw this coming a mile away. We warned you. You refused to listen.
The NFL’s 2018 season opened in earnest last night as the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in a clash of brats that used to mean something in our country. Fans just don’t seem to care like they used to about the NFL, thanks in large part to the perceived disrespect to the National Anthem shown by players who’ve chosen to protest during the pregame ceremony. Combine this steady trending away from the pro football circus with the hoopla surrounding Nike’s latest Colin Kaepernick-centric ad campaign, and the NFL’s trouble are worse than anyone could have imagined.
To add more injury to that, the 2017 8:42 PM ET-starting season opener between the victorious Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots ended up with a weak 7.7/29 rating among adults 18-49 and 21.8 million viewers. That was a double digit decline from 2016 and the worst total audience an opening game had since 2009.
Even in a TV landscape where ratings and viewership are noticeably dipping, unless you are This Is Us or Game Of Thrones, those results have to worry the NFL and the broadcasters, especially the still Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox with its pricey Thursday Night Football debuting this year.
The NFL’s problems in Atlanta have only been made worse by the fact that that the Falcons have been wholly outmatched for hype, attendance, and results by stadium-mates Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer.
In their annual pre-season roasting of the NFL, Deadspin was quick to point out this very fact:
They are getting overshadowed in their own stadium by a soccer team in their second year of existence. The Falcons are playing games in Atlanta United’s stadium. They’re crashing on Josef Martinez’s couch. The flag that says “BLESS YOUR HEART” at ATL United games is for the Falcons, not the opposition.
It’s embarrassing how much better ATL United is in every way at being an actual Atlanta-feeling team than the Falcons. The crowd is actually as diverse as the city is, the game experience is so much more pleasant, and they don’t have the creeping evil of THE SHIELD lurking behind the whole atmosphere.
Folks, the NFL is doomed.