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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NFL is America's most valuable TV property, and it's even more important to networks and advertisers this year with entertainment production largely shut down due to COVID-19.

Driving the news: Last week's top six prime-time shows were all NFL, but despite outperforming all other forms of prime-time programming, Week 1 ratings for the league were down roughly 4% compared to the 2019 season, according to Nielsen ratings cited by CNBC.

  • Some will say this is evidence that player protests and the league's social justice initiatives are turning fans away.
  • Others will say the ratings decline is merely a result of the NFL competing with more leagues than usual due to the reshuffled sports calendar, not to mention cord-cutting.
  • Another theory is that the pandemic — and specifically working from home — has thrown off our schedules and routines, leading to irregular viewing behavior.

My thought bubble: It's way too early to be making sweeping statements about what these ratings mean (especially when we're talking about a 4% decline). Check back in a week or two and we'll talk.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jul 9, 2020 - Sports

College sports stare down a coronavirus-driven disaster in the fall

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wednesday was the worst day in college sports since March 12, when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Driving the news: The Ivy League announced that it will cancel all fall sports and will not consider resuming sports until Jan. 1, 2021 — and Stanford is permanently cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports to help offset a projected $70 million, pandemic-fueled deficit.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.