And so it begins

 The NFL opener was reported to be “down about 12 percent” last night:

In the latest TV ratings, NBC Sunday Night Football‘s Thursday-night NFL kickoff game between the Chiefs and Titans Texans averaged 17.1 million total viewers and a 5.5 demo rating in fast nationals, down about 12 percent from the preliminary numbers for last year’s season opener.

They’ve also changed the rating system this year, so it’s entirely possible that the 4.9 million decline in viewers from last year is worse than reported.

Despite an ugly, penalty-filled game, the Green Bay Packers’ 10-3 win over the Chicago Bears averaged 22 million viewers in the finals, a 16 percent boost over the 18.98 million who tuned in last year. Streaming on NBC and NFL digital properties averaged 627,000 viewers, an all-time high for NBC’s primetime NFL package. NBC’s telecast scored a preliminary 15.3 household rating in overnight metered markets. That’s up 14 percent from a 13.4 in the overnights for the 2018 season opener, and also bests the 14.6 for the first game of the 2017 season.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t a drop from 22 million to 17.1 be a 22.3 percent decline? Perhaps they’ll find another 2.26 million viewers in time for the final ratings. Outkick claims the decline is more like 16 percent.

In early numbers, the Chiefs win scored a 5.2 among adults 18-49 and 16.4 million viewers between 8-11 p.m. ET. While the number will adjust some upward later to 11:30 p.m., right now it’s a 16.1{fb585635b9f6189e33442b25caac15ec2544d7054f182b4f92840c6cee65accd} drop. In fast affiliates, last night fell the same 16.1{fb585635b9f6189e33442b25caac15ec2544d7054f182b4f92840c6cee65accd}.

A 12 percent decline would be massive. Remember, this is a league with economics built on the assumption of revenues increasing by $2.3 billion every year. The very real possibility of losing one-quarter of the fans would be a nightmare.