NFL ratings down 9.7% during 2017 regular season

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NFL TV ratings are still high overall, however.

In 2017, only 10,800,000 fans watched Monday Night Football on ESPN.

This follows an 8 percent drop across CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN last season, when former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players began kneeling for "The Star-Spangled Banner" before games.

Nevertheless, NFL games remained among the most watched TV programming, accounting for 33 of the top 50 programs during the year.

December 10, 2017: San Francisco 49ers players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans.

The Thursday and Sunday NFL prime-time packages took the biggest hits in viewership.

The average audience size declined 9.7 percent with 14.9 million viewers compared to the 2016 regular season's viewership of 16.5 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. "That's a pretty meaningful drop", he said.

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NBC's "Sunday Night Football" averaged 18.2 million viewers, an 11% decline from the previous season and its smallest audience in nearly a decade.

The 9.7 percent decline in TV viewership last season is greater than the 7.8 percent decline in 2016 from the previous season, statistics show.

However, the National Football League has recently made an aggressive push to increase its digital presence, and will continue to do so to hedge against TV viewership losses moving forward.

The games played in those Sunday time slots will be broadcast on Fox and CBS, according to the report.

Mulvihill also believes the continued growth of cable news viewing, driven by interest in the often frenetic Trump White House, is pulling viewers away from the NFL.

But even with the ratings decline, the value of National Football League content is not expected to diminish as tech companies are looking for must-have video content. Verizon's new deal with the National Football League to distribute games on mobile phones pays $400 million to $500 million a year, almost twice as much as its last deal.