NFL ratings were down nearly 10% in 2017, according to Nielsen numbers parsed by Darren Rovell at ESPN.
According to the article, an average of 14.9 million people tuned in to watch each game, down from 16.5 million the year prior. And that number was down 8% from the year before.
Why the downturn?
It could be political fallout from the Colin Kaepernick anthem protests, with far left types (Shaun King) boycotting the NFL due to a perception that the former San Francisco quarterback is being blackballed by owners. On the far right, some (like my ex-Army buddy) have stopped watching because they’ve found the protests to be disrespectful and un-American.
Congratulations to commissioner Roger Goodell on getting liberals and conservatives to agree on something for the first time ever – that his league isn’t worth watching.
Rovell’s story also talks about the numerous options for NFL viewing:
“Other factors cited include the dilution of the product through Thursday Night Football, which was broadcast on the NFL Network, CBS, NBC and Amazon Prime this season. This season, both Fox CEO James Murdoch and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus blamed the ratings slide on the proliferation of games.
The NFL RedZone also might be a factor in taking fans away from watching the daytime games on CBS and FOX. The NFL Network and DirecTV, which air separate versions of the show that broadcast live look-ins, have never shared viewership numbers.”
And there’s always the overarching trend in TV viewership, too. More millennials are cord-cutters in 2018. Plenty catch highlights on social media instead of sitting through a three-hour game with way too many commercials.
But the drop in ratings doesn’t change much in terms of total market share, according to the LA Times:
NFL games remain television’s biggest attractions by far: In 2017, they accounted for 37 out of the 50 most-watched programs of the year, according to Nielsen. NBC’s “NFL Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched program in prime time, with 18.2 million viewers this past season. However, the figure is down from 20.3 million viewers in 2016 and 22.5 million in 2015.
The NFL is still a juggernaut, but it’s not exactly what it used to be, nor is anything else on prime time television.
As far as actual attendance, Goodell told the media back in December that stadium numbers were down by just one percent:
“We are over 98 percent filled to capacity, which is about where we’ve been in the past. We have three teams that have either recently gone through transitions or are playing in temporary facilities, so that’s something that we knew we were going to have to deal with going forward.”
Does “transition” also mean that a team sucks? Because there was a lot of pedestrian football played in 2017.
— Colin Resch (@colinresch) September 22, 2017