It is likely that multiple factors played into the decline, including social justice messages, which were present, as audience size has declined across all sports in recent months. A non-competitive game – a 34 to 20 Chiefs victory, in which they led by 24 in the fourth quarter – likely played a role. So too was an unusual competition from an unprecedented sporting calendar, which saw the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, the MLB regular season, the US Open and football. university take place on Thursday evening.
NBC noted that with its network’s digital platforms and the NFL, total audience broadcast reached 20.3 million viewers.
Even though the Chiefs just won their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, the game between Kansas City and Houston doesn’t have the same national appeal as last year’s game between the Packers and Bears. It also marked the first NFL season to start without a preseason game, perhaps reducing the hype and awareness.