VERIFY: Did the NFL Players' Protest Cause Ratings to Drop?

President's criticisms spark more protests at NFL games

The battle over NFL ratings has exploded during Week 3 of the season with President Donald Trump tweeting that the ratings are "way down" because of athletes protesting the national anthem. The network's two afternoon national games, one between the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals and the other between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, were basically even with previous year.

CBS said its overall game coverage on Sunday averaged 11.9 percent of households that tuned in, up 4 percent from last year's week three coverage.

The " matchup between the Washington and Oakland delivered a one-sided game for viewers and a weakened ratings return for NBC. Did this weekend's events have a dramatic effect on Sunday's games?

The President telling those who attended a rally on Friday in Huntsville, AL that those National Football League players who kneeled in protest to the treatment of African-Americans should be fired.

But even if ratings are down year-over-year, the early numbers also indicate that ratings for this week's slate of games could end up being better than they were for the season's first two weeks, even despite the controversy.

It's Tillerson vs. Haley Over Iranian Nuclear Deal
Vice President Mike Pence during a high level Security Council meeting on United Nations peacekeeping operations. Haley turned down the top diplomatic job previously, weeks after Trump's surprise election victory past year .

'NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN, ' Trump tweeted Sunday, prior to NBC's broadcast of Sunday Night Football.

There may also be some evidence that Trump's feud with the National Football League anthem kneelers has caused viewers to tune in at the beginning of the game to see whether players stand or kneel, as ratings for pregame shows spiked significantly from a year ago. Those opposed to the protests have said it is disrespectful to the military and flag.

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. "He's fired, '" Trump told a crowd in Alabama on Friday night.

At some games Sunday, players kneeled in large numbers during the anthem and were critical of Trump's comments. With attention on players kneeling during the national anthem, it's led the NFL's media partners to air the various renditions from each stadium as this has become a huge national story.

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