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The NFL's logo. Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After years of declines, NFL television ratings are showing modest gains. for most packages, AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy reports.

Why it matters: These are the first gains for America's most popular sports league in two years, Reedy writes. The NFL had seen a sharp decline in ratings with a 9.7% decrease in 2017 and an 8% decrease in 2016.

Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports who now runs his own sports television consulting company, said a major ratings driver has been the emergence of young quarterbacks like the Rams' Jared Goff, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky.

  • Another factor: Player protests against social and racial injustice during the national anthem have not been a major storyline this season.
  • Pilson: "A few of those folks who said they were going to stop watching, I don't know how many did."

The data: "NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' package has shown the biggest improvement with an 8 percent increase from last season. It is averaging 19.7 million viewers, compared to 18.3 million last season."

  • "This past Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots averaged a league-high 23.7 million, and was the largest prime-time audience on any network since ABC aired the Academy Awards in March."
  • "ESPN's 'Monday Night Football' is averaging 11.418 million, which is up 3 percent (11.135 million)."
  • "CBS's Sunday afternoon games are averaging 15.713 million viewers, which is up 1 percent from last season (15.528 million)."

"Fox's Sunday afternoon coverage is averaging more viewers than CBS at 17.299 million, but this is a decrease of less than 1 percent from last season (17.414 million)."

  • "The only package that has sharply declined is Thursday Night Football. It is averaging 12.522 million viewers in its first season on Fox, which is down from the 14.134 million on CBS last season."

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.