Sunday’s broadcast of the Super Bowl drew the big game’s smallest audience since 2009, the Nielsen rating company announced Monday.
NBC’s broadcast of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots drew about 103.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Last year’s broadcast on Fox attracted 111.3 million viewers.
The decline in Super Bowl viewership follows an NFL regular season in which ratings dropped by 9.7 percent, prompting speculation about whether fan outrage over the take-a-knee protests played a role.
“There’s no singular reason for the drops — but poor prime-time match-ups early in the season, ongoing controversy about players choosing to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against black Americans and the natural ebb and flow of interest all clearly played some part,” said The Hollywood Reporter.
No players sat or knelt for the anthem during the playoffs, including the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl viewership has declined steadily after peaking in 2015, when 114.4 million people tuned in to watch the New England Patriots win after intercepting the Seattle Seahawks at the last minute.
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