After a disastrous 3-13 season in 2019, Washington Football overhauled its operation. The team finally fired Bruce Allen after an awful decade-long run overseeing the organization, hired Ron Rivera as head coach and de facto football czar, retired its old nickname and drafted Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick.
In fact, take a snapshot of the Washington Football Team from September 2019 and another in September 2020, almost nothing looks the same.
Much of that change should have built significant momentum for the team and its fans, but recent television ratings don't reveal that answer.
In fact, through two weeks of the 2020 season, Washington's TV ratings are down from 2019. See chart below:
Week 1 2019 @ Eagles: 19.0. Week 1 2020 vs Eagles: 14.3
Week 2 2019 vs Cowboys: 18.3. Week 2 2020 @ Cardinals: 16.5
The numbers come from John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal via an appearance on The Kevin Sheehan Show Wednesday morning. (Listen here)
Ourand explained that ratings are down about eight percent across the NFL, less significant than the drop for Washington. What else stood out to Ourand is that Washington did not see more of a gain in Week 2 after an impressive Week 1 win over Philadelphia. The 4p.m. time slot of Washington's second game usually delivers more eyeballs too.
"The ratings locally are down," Ourand said. "It’s a little bit expected as this team gets its footing. As they start to win, as they start to get competitive, those numbers should go up."
It's also important to note that due to the Coronavirus pandemic there is more sports inventory right now than ever before. Washington's Week 2 game against Arizona not only went up against a Ravens game in the same time slot, but it was also the final round of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. There's also NBA and NHL playoffs on seemingly every night, plus the continued success of the Red Zone Channel.
Soon the restarted NBA and NHL seasons will end, and more eyeballs could shift back to the NFL. The opposite could be true, however, with the pending presidential election. Normally that pulls viewers away from the NFL until its conclusion in early November.
A few other factors could be part of the downward rating trend: no fans in stands and no preseason. Visually the games look different with empty seats, and while preseason football might not be a great product, it does build awareness that the NFL season is about to begin.
Regardless, 2019 was awful for the Washington Football Team, and 2020 is supposed to be the beginning of a new era. That could still well be happening but the television audience is not buying back in quite yet.