NEW YORK (AP) — Through three weeks, viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11 percent this season compared to 2016.

The Nielsen company said Tuesday that the NFL games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and dipped to 15.77 million this year. The 2017 figures don't include this week's Monday night game.

The NFL ratings are in focus because of President Donald Trump's suggestion that viewers are turned off by a protest against police brutality that began with quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem. The protests spread rapidly this past weekend following the president's criticism of people involved.

Next week's ratings will be even more closely watched because of conservative calls to boycott this weekend's games.