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Rival Report 10/6: NFL TV ratings continue to drop, time for concern?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a nasty little surprise for the NFL this season, their television ratings are in a steady decline. Their flagship program Monday Night Football on ESPN specifically has been getting raked over the coals. In fact, one week was their lowest rated game in the history of MNF even but that is only because it went up against the Presidential Debate.

Even when taking that game out of consideration due to the unique programming battle it had, the ratings for MNF have been going down. This past Monday's game wasn't against any potential presidents and it still dropped 8% from the previous year's week. Now, that's better than the 19% overall they were down going into that game but it still isn't what the NFL was expecting.

It's not just MNF though, Sunday Night Football is also experiencing an ample drop in ratings. They just experienced the lowest overnight ratings they have had since 2007 after this past week's Steelers clobbering of the Chiefs. Their viewership numbers were their lowest of the season as well, though they still had 16.68 million people watching.

There are many different factors for these ratings drops and the NFL isn't exactly hurting for money yet, but it still is the first step back we have seen in a long time for the league that seemed impervious to ratings drops before this. It's no longer able to be written off as an anomaly, it's been going on for a quarter of this NFL season now.

Whether it keeps going in this direction is yet to be seen, but with so many people streaming their games now and the public backlash to the National Anthem player protests there is reason to believe it will continue. How the NFL deals with this will have a significant effect on their bottom dollar.

The more these ratings drop, the less they get in advertising money, and the bigger problem it will become. Is it time to be concerned about it just yet? Yes and no. They don't have to worry about the immediate future yet because even their lowest Sunday Night Football game last week brought in over 16 million viewers, but they should be worried about whether they will be able to stop the slide before it does become a problem.

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