The Dallas Cowboys became the first visiting team to win the NFL Kickoff game at the defending Super Bowl champions, beating the New York Giants 24-17. While not producing near the highlights or excitement of last year's thrilling Saints-Packers opener, the game wasn't decided until the two minute warning. Naturally, the game produced another high rating for 2011's most watched show on television - Sunday Night Football.
Last night's game drew a 16.5 overnight rating, which is down 4% from last year. There is a reasonable explanation of course, with Slick Willie breaking out his southern charm and jedi mind tricks at last night's DNC. With a huge event like that occurring (the DNC and President Obama's address are the whole reason last night's game took place on Wednesday instead of Thursday), it's not too shocking NFL ratings took a slight hit from last year.
But, the more interesting comparison is to the last election cycle in 2008. That year, the NFL game came on earlier at 7 to get done before John McCain's RNC address. Compared to four years ago, the NFL is up 63%. 63%! It's easy to lose sight of just how insane the NFL's ratings growth is compared to everything else in sports and on television. If Sunday Night Football isn't the most watched show in America once again this year, it'll cetainly be an upset.