A huge 'Monday Night Football' boosted NFL ratings, despite Trump comments

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The NFL's Sunday Night Football ratings were down again after a weekend in which President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the league's players for kneeling during the national anthem.

THE FACTS: NFL games shown to a national audience averaged 16.04 million viewers for the first two weeks of this season, down 11 percent from the 18.1 million people who watched during the same period a year ago, the Nielsen company said. And, while Fox's Sunday coverage was also down from 2016, CBS year-over-year coverage was incrementally improved. In fact, the presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton caused the Week 3 MNF game in 2016 to have its lowest viewership in at least 25 years.

On a day when around 200 NFL players engaged in some form of protest against racial inequality in America by kneeling, sitting, locking arms, or raising a fist during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner, ' the league endured its worst ratings for Sunday Night Football this season".

In a gesture initiated last season by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, several National Football League players have routinely "taken one knee" during the playing of the anthem.

Sunday night's game between the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders scored an 11.6/20, meaning that an estimated 11.6 percent of all metered-market households watched the game and an estimated 20 percent of homes using a television at the time watched, Deadline reports. CBS' "The NFL Today" had its traditional opening, "highlighting the CBS games of the week before an initial seven-minute discussion on Trump's comments".

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On the surface, it appeared the NFL's viewers were in for yet another humdrum matchup to kickstart Week 3 when the Los Angeles Rams were slated to take on the rival San Francisco 49ers.

The Week 3 MNF football game this year saw a 9.3 rating, compared to a 5.7 rating in Week 3 of 2016-that's a 63 percent increase and a 3.6 percentage point difference.

CBS reported on Monday that Week 3 ratings were up 4 percent from a year ago. The show began with a shot of the sidelines of the Ravens-Jaguars game in London that had already started, followed by cast intros and host Sam Ponder "introducing Trump's "son of a bitch" comment (with no bleeps) at an Alabama rally". Almost every Oakland Raider sat on the bench as the national anthem played.

LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills kneels during the national anthem on Sunday in Orchard Park, New York.

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