NBC's Sunday night National Football League ratings dip from last year's week 3

1:10 | NFL         NFL Players React to Trump's Comments on National Anthem Protests

The battle over NFL ratings has exploded during Week 3 of the season with President Donald Trump tweeting that the ratings are "way down" because of athletes protesting the national anthem. Kapernick is the former 49ers quarterback that began kneeling during the national anthem at games last season to protest police brutality in minority communities. Percentages might have been down for a couple weeks, but the National Football League had set such a high bar that it was a prisoner of its own success when comparing ratings to previous years.

As for the Monday Night Football game, a 28-17 win by the Cowboys, Dallas rang in a 9.2 rating on ESPN and a 19.8 rating on WFAA-ABC, while Phoenix delivered a 13.6 rating on ESPN and 8.6 rating on KUTP-IND. This week's game also posted lower initial ratings than weeks one and two, NBC said.

What saw the biggest bump on Sunday was the pregame coverage on the networks, with CBS reporting a 33 percent increase in viewership for The NFL Today compared to last season.

To come up with overnight ratings, Nielsen takes the percentage of households watching in 56 US markets and comes up with an overnight average - so an 11.6, for instance, means that 11.6% of households in those 54 markets tuned into the game on NBC on Sunday night.

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That's down eight percent from the Week 2 Sunday night matchup between Atlanta and Green Bay and down 10 percent from the NFL's Week 3 game a year ago.

The networks saw huge boosts for their pregame shows, though. Did this weekend's events have a dramatic effect on Sunday's games? Both networks tackled the political news of the weekend.

An important note, however: these numbers do not yet include the number of people who watched football live streaming on computers and mobile devices. Those opposed to the protests have said it is disrespectful to the military and flag. It was a great Sunday of football and still the main story was what players did during the national anthem.

It seems likely, and logical, that Trump's vast social media presence-his personal Twitter account has around 39.3 million followers-is helping to bring a new audience to a league and sport electrified by the president's very public opposition. CBS' string of shared Thursday Night Football games starts September 28 after several weekends of smaller performances airing exclusively on the NFL Network.

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