Remember, we said Monday Night Football (MNF) ratings will be down with no end in sight. Tonight may be the worst MNF ratings in recent memory. That is because tonight, MNF goes up against some riveting television: the first presidential debate between democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and republican nominee Donald Trump.
At one point Donald Trump said he didn’t want to go up against NFL games. He even said the NFL sent a letter saying the debates scheduled against the game was unfair. It’s important to note the NFL completely denied any such letter. In any case, this may actually end up being a loss for ESPN, because this debate will draw viewers away from the Monday night match-up.
Part of it could be because the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints are major national teams. Neither is expected to be a Super Bowl contender, and Drew Brees is the only truly marketable star to casual fans. Monday Night Football hasn’t exactly done itself any favors the past two weeks either. Casual fans may expect another blowout. They could’ve been simply turned off by the past two games. The ratings may not have matched historical year over year comparisons even without the debate.
The debate is now prime-time television. Trump has come back in the polls and Hillary Clinton’s once huge lead is now close to the margin of error. Trump is must see television every time he gets behind the podium. People can disagree with his policies but they still watch. His supporters would tune in regardless.
That means Monday Night’s ratings battle will be on the stage behind podiums not on the football field. It does not mean that the debate will out-rate the game — but if it does that would be amazing since football dominates the ratings war. I guess we will see tomorrow.
The effect of the presidential race on sports media has been pretty apparent. It is going to continue. Tonight, the best match-up could be Hillary vs. The Donald, and not Brees v. Matt Ryan.