KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One thing we know about Kansas City’s football fans: When the local team is competitive, they’ll watch Chiefs games in big numbers.
We don’t know whether that will be the case with Sunday morning’s game from London against the Detroit Lions. The game will kick off at 8:30 a.m. in Kansas City.
A number of factors suggest it will be a struggle for the Chiefs to draw the usual amount of eyes to TV sets for Sunday’s game. One is the kickoff time. This is the fourth NFL game going back to last season to begin in London at 2:30 p.m. local time.
That translates to 9:30 a.m. in the Eastern time zone, where all of the teams to play in the early game have been located until now. The Chiefs are the first Central time zone to have a morning start to a London game.
Sunday is the first day for standard time in the United States, so kickoff time will feel like 9:30 a.m. to fans in Kansas City.
Regardless, the morning games generally haven’t fared as well in the local markets with regard to TV ratings as games with a more traditional start time.
When the Falcons played a morning game in London last year, ratings were down 11 percent in Atlanta from what the Falcons drew during the rest of the season. The Miami Dolphins’ rating was down 18 percent and the New York Jets’ rating down 11 percent from the usual when those teams met in London earlier this season. Ratings in Buffalo and Jacksonville were down by 8 percent in each market from the normal in those markets for last week's game between the Bills and Jaguars.
The Lions drew 7 percent better ratings than normal last year for the game against the Falcons.
Kansas City fans will be up in big numbers on Saturday night to watch the Royals in Game 4 of the World Series against the New York Mets and at least some may not want to climb from bed to watch the Chiefs early on Sunday.
There’s also the fact the Chiefs are 2-5, though they broke a five-game losing streak last week with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
President Mark Donovan said the Chiefs believe their fans will watch in their usual big numbers. He indicated the Chiefs were contemplating opening Arrowhead Stadium for a watch party but decided against it because of the early kickoff hour.
The Chiefs will still take over a bar and restaurant in downtown Kansas City and be the hosts for a watch party. But that’s something the Chiefs do whenever they play on the road.