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The NFL’s season-opening game on Thursday night posted a slight decline in television audience compared to the same game one year ago, according to preliminary ratings data.
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An average audience of 19.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the Houston Texans. That figure marked a 13 percent decline from last year’s debut game, which drew an average audience of 22.12 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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Despite the slight downtick in audience, the Chiefs-Texans game was the most-watched television event since the Academy Awards on ABC on Feb. 9 which had 23.64 million viewers. No other network program on Thursday night surpassed four million viewers.
The total did not include out-of-home viewership figures, which will be available next week and included in the final audience number. Digital platforms drew an average per-minute audience of 970,000 viewers, the largest figure on record for an NFL game.
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The NFL’s television ratings have increased for each of the last two seasons. Regular-season viewership spiked five percent to 16.5 million per game in 2019.
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President Trump has argued that the NFL and other sports leagues will lose viewers if they allow national anthem protests and other demonstrations to proceed. Members of the Chiefs and Texans linked arms on the field in a show of solidarity prior to Thursday night’s game.
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