Through three weeks, viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11 percent this season compared to 2016, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday.
Nielsen said the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and have dipped to 15.77 million this year. The 2017 figures don’t include this week’s Monday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals.
The Nielsen figures also don’t include many of the Sunday afternoon games that are shown to a regional audience, but not a national one.
The NFL ratings are in focus because of President Donald Trump’s suggestion that viewers are turned off by a protest against police brutality that began with quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem. The protests spread rapidly this past weekend following the president’s criticism of people involved.