Keep it up with all the politics, guys, and this will just be a taste of what’s coming.
Through three weeks, viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11 percent this season compared to 2016, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday.
Nielsen said the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and have dipped to 15.65 million this year. The Nielsen figures don’t include many of the Sunday afternoon games that are shown to a regional audience, but not a national one.
All the tal last season was how badly they did in the ratings. Now they’re even worse.
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, since conservative groups and Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity have called for people angered by the protests to boycott this weekend’s games.
Meanwhile, Round One of the new ideological battle on cable television news went to Hannity, who has moved to a time slot directly competing with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Nielsen said Hannity had 3.27 million viewers on Monday, compared to 2.66 million for Maddow. CNN, which showed a special health care debate at the same hour, had 1.45 million viewers.
If the NFL believes antagonizing Americans by siding with the angry left is going to help them they’re in for a very rude awakening. Once advertisers begin abandoning them they’ll do a 180, but by then the damage will have been done. Speaking personally, we’ve been a longtime diehard fan, and if we’re turned off, we can only imagine the casual fan would tune out sooner.
The NFL is a billion-dollar business and players have become wealthy playing the sport. When television rights fees and audiences dry up, salaries will go down. It’s bottom-line business. Maybe then the players and owners will get the message: Fans want to see football, not have politics shoved down our throats.