The NFL’s ratings are in tailspin.
Week seven of the National Football League saw some of the biggest drops in viewing yet.
And everyone in the media is ignoring the obvious reason why.
The seventh Sunday of the NFL season began with a contest in London between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.
The game drew the lowest rating of any NFL telecast in three years.
The 1PM regional broadcast also saw significant ratings decline.
Ratings for the television window were down 13% from the year before.
The news was no better for the 4PM national double header game between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, which also saw a 13% plunge in the ratings.
One of the reasons sports media watchers claimed ratings were down was because Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had been suspended for the first four games of the season and viewers were turned off by a general lack of star quarterbacks.
The marquee game of the NFL’s TV schedule – the Sunday Night Football telecast – saw ratings plummet 16%.
And finally, the Monday Night Football game featuring the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos saw ratings drop 14%.
Overall 37 of the 47 broadcasts windows of NFL football have seen declining ratings.
Sports Media pundits are searching for a reason, but many of these media members – almost all of whom lean left politically – are avoiding the one reason backed up by polling data: the protests of the national anthem.
Several other theories have included interest generated by the Presidential election, the concussion problems plaguing former players causing many parents to steer their children away from the game, and just too many games on television.
Sports Business Journal spoke to industry experts who offered their opinion:
“Industry observers offer a variety of explanations: “overall broadcast ratings erosion; home-market blackouts; franchise movement; a shortage of great teams; sports clutter, including a college football glut; and even the methodology behind ratings.” BBDO Exec VP/Dir of National Broadcast Steve Grubbs: “The number of viewing options has increased so dramatically.”
However, the only theory which is backed up by data is the protests of the national anthem.
Player unrest began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench during the Star Spangled Banner at a preseason game.
During the regular season, he began taking a knee, and other players soon made similar anti-Americans protests.
Fans were outraged.
They hoped to enjoy the games and steer clear of politics for a few hours.
But that proved impossible.
Since politics invaded their escape from everyday life, man began to escape from football.
Both Yahoo/YouGov and Rasmussen polls find nearly one-third of NFL fans cite player protests as the reason they will watch less professional football.
Do you agree that national anthem protests are the main reason viewers are turning away from the NFL?
Let us know what you think in the comment section.