Well this didn’t come as a surprise. We knew that the first presidential debate, held last night at Hofstra University, would pull viewers away from Monday Night Football. We didn’t know the numbers were going to look like this. The debate between democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and republican nominee Donald Trump rated a 46.2 overnight. To put that in perspective, the Super Bowl — the most watched event in the United States — normally pulls a rating around 49. Basically the presidential debates have now turned into must-see Super Bowl like viewing.
Remember, Donald Trump wasn’t happy that the debate would be going up against America’s darling in TV ratings — the NFL. Well it does not matter, because no one watched the high scoring affair that was Falcons v. Saints. That’s not totally true. Monday Night Football had a 5.7 rating. That was down from an 8.3 rating from a week before in the disgusting Eagles v. Bears game. Those ratings are all down year over year.
There isn’t much ESPN and the NFL could have done to protect itself from last night. As unlikeable these candidates are — their favorability numbers bear that out as something induspitable — people were still excited to see them face off against each other. Sure there were no tackles or amazing athletic feats, but the country has strong feelings toward — or against — both.
The next NFL v. presidential debate battle will take place on October 9. There is a lot that could help the NFL over the next two weeks. First the game is the Giants v. Packers. That’s a huge market plus two historic nationally recognized teams. If the polls somehow shift to one side or the other, people may not tune in because the debate will mean less. Also, the game on NBC should draw more fans than the game on ESPN — cord cutters again. The debate will still out-rate the football game, but it doesn’t mean it will be a repeat performance. Or fans and political wonks can get two TVs. That’s what I did.