Ratings Actually Improved During NFL's Tumultuous Week 3

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President's criticisms spark more protests at NFL games

Donald Trump and many have claimed that the NFL's ratings are down because of league-wide protests during the national anthem.

The early ratings numbers, which are incomplete and subject to a great deal of change, showed CBS' numbers up compared to the same week previous year, while NBC and Fox's numbers were down. It was also up over 2015 (the Packers-Chiefs drew an 8.9 overnight) and 2014 (the Bears-Jets drew a 9.2 rating). Ratings for the game rose 63% above the week three game from 2016, according to ESPN, though that game suffered from being in direct competition with a presidential debate.

To come up with overnight ratings, Nielsen takes the percentage of households watching in 56 USA markets and comes up with an overnight average - so an 11.6, for instance, means that 11.6% of households in those 54 markets tuned into the game on NBC on Sunday night.

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Earlier in the day, ratings for CBS' NFL doubleheader were up 4% from the same week a year ago.

The week's National Football League ratings were a grab bag.

With Washington dominating throughout and ultimately winning 27-10, "Sunday Night Football" averaged an 11.6 rating in Nielsen's metered-market household numbers.

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The networks saw huge boosts for their pregame shows, though. Additionally, CBS' NFL Today pregame show scored its highest rating since 2010. The controversy could be bad news for television networks, if vast numbers of viewers decide to tune out all at once. And are the NFL's TV ratings sinking overall?

The protests are expected to continue through Monday Night Football as the Dallas Cowboys face the Arizona Cardinals.

The president suggests that the national anthem protests pioneered by Colin Kaepernick has played a role in declining ratings. Those opposed to the protests have said it is disrespectful to the military and flag. 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".

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Fox, CBS, and NBC all broadcast the national anthem live during football games Sunday - a notable shift away from their usual practice.

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