The Monday Night Football ratings are in, and they're historic, though not in any good kind of way.
The timing of the game, Christmas Eve, along with an inconsequential matchup — the sub-par Denver Broncos (6 - 9) vs. the dreadful Oakland Raiders (4 - 11), both of which failed to make the playoffs — combined to produce a record low rating of 5.4.
"According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Journal, the 5.4 rating came in five percent lower than the previous record low for the prime-time Monday package," NBC Sports reports.
That rating managed to beat out the previous record MNF low set back in 2016 when a business tycoon and former reality TV star host faced off against a former first lady and secretary of state in their first big debate. The highly anticipated and much-watched Clinton-Trump debate resulted in a 5.7 rating for MNF's matchup that week against the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, NBC notes.
As for the ratings for the week: Week 16 performed better than the previous year, partly due to some excellent matchups with major playoff implications (including the Ravens vs. the Chargers, the Texans vs. the Eagles, and the Steelers vs. the Saints).
The NFL's ratings overall this year have been doing pretty well, with the league managing to reverse most of the downward trends of the previous few seasons. Through Week 12, the NFL's ratings had improved on 2017 by 5% overall.
"Through 12 weeks of play, NFL games are averaging 15.8 million viewers on television, according to figures released Wednesday by the league. In 2017, its games averaged 14.9 million viewers for the full season," ESPN reported in late November. "That number was 16.5 million for the entire 2016 season and 17.9 million in 2015."
The four-letter network noted that NFL games accounted for 19 of the top 20 most-watched shows on TV and 46 of the top 50 at that point. The improved numbers, ESPN posits, is partly due a surge in offensive numbers. In fact, the league's offenses managed to rack up the most points (8,502) and touchdowns (980) in 12 weeks ever, led by terrific quarterback play, including from standout QB Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs (and aided by increasingly pro-offense officiated).
As for how the playoffs are shaping up, here's the latest:
- Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) (clinched playoff berth, tied for AFC West)
- New England Patriots (10-5) (clinched AFC East)
- Houston Texans (10-5) (clinched playoff berth, lead AFC South)
- Baltimore Ravens (9-6) (lead AFC North)
- Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) (clinched playoff berth, tied for AFC West)
- Indianapolis Colts (9-6) (in contention for AFC South, possible wild card)
- Tennessee Titans (9-6) (in contention for AFC South, possible wild card)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) (in contention for AFC North, possible wild card)
- New Orleans Saints (13-2) (clinched AFC South, no. 1 seed in conference)
- Los Angeles Rams (12-3) (clinched NFC West)
- Chicago Bears (11-4) (clinched NFC North)
- Dallas Cowboys (9-6) (clinched NFC East)
- Seattle Seahawks (9-6) (clinched playoff berth)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) (in contention for playoff berth)
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) (in contention for playoff berth)