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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.

50 mins ago - Sports

China pulls Celtics games after Enes Kanter criticizes Xi Jinping

Celtics center Enes Kanter. Photo: Jim Michaud/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

China will no longer stream Boston Celtics games after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" in a social media post over the Chinese government's repressive policies in Tibet, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Kanter's criticism of Beijing has sparked another round of trouble for the NBA in China, one of its largest and most restrictive markets.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's new venture could be peak SPAC

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Former President Trump last night announced plans to launch a digital media network called "Truth Social," and said it would go public via a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition (Nasdaq: DWAC).

What to know: So far, this is a joke. The press release didn't contain even basic information, such as the new company's CEO. In fact, the only execs mentioned are Trump (as chairman) and veteran TV producer Scott St. John as head of a subscription streaming service.