The NFL’s nosedive in TV ratings has been a major story across the sports and media landscape.
Long the nation’s TV juggernaut, ratings across the league’s broadcast partners are down 11% for 2016.
Everyone is scrambling for an answer, and a new poll reveals why the American people are turning away from professional football.
Yahoo and YouGov conducted a poll of 1,136 NFL fans.
While 27% reported they were watching more football, that number was surpassed by the 29% who stated they were watching fewer games.
Many in the media have pointed to the Presidential election, the absence of star quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, poor quality of play, and unattractive primetime matchups as the reason the league’s ratings are down.
But the number one reason fans cited in Yahoo’s poll for not watching NFL football was the national anthem protests that began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Their poll also found that large percentages of fans would also boycott other sports if athletes copied Kaepernick’s anti-American protest.
“Worth noting: the 40 percent of the “watching less NFL” group claiming protests as the reason represents 12 percent of all NFL fans. This is a sharp, though very much expected, decline from the 44 percent who claimed in a similar Yahoo study in early September that they would stop watching if protests continued.
Response to the protests continues to break down along age lines. More than half, 53 percent, of respondents 55 and over who said they are watching fewer games cited Kaepernick as the reason, while only 13 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 pointed to the protests as their reason for watching less football.
Should the protests migrate to other sports, respondents said they would cut back on viewing to the following degrees:
17 percent of NBA fans would watch fewer games
28 percent of baseball fans would watch fewer games
31 percent of hockey fans would watch fewer games”
Kaepernick’s protests have been hailed in some quarters of the media and have been reenacted at various levels of football.
Even players at high school recreational levels have begun disrespecting the American flag and armed services by refusing to stand for the national anthem.
But they are having a disastrous effect on the NFL’s bottom line.
NFL advertisers are purchasing ads at rates based on what they believe will be the NFL viewership.
For example, ads on Sunday Night Football – which is the crown jewel of the NFL’s broadcast package – cost nearly $700,000 for a 30 second ad.
But ratings have been down on that telecast.
The most recent matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks saw a 15% plunge from the year before.
Declining ratings means the league is being forced to offer “make good” ads, which are free spots to advertisers to make up for the fact the league isn’t delivering its promised audience.
The protests – which is the top reason given for why fans are not watching the games – are costing the league millions of dollars.
Will this lead to cracking down on the anti-American national anthem protests?
Let us know what you think in the comment section.