The Downward Spiral Of The NFL('s Ratings)

No one seemed to have an answer for the ratings declines that continued after the 2016 presidential election - most notably ratings declines in 10 of the 12 playoff games AND the Super Bowl. 

Well, it's a new season, obviously, but now we're being fed another round of excuses for the continued ratings declines.  

The NFL's overall ratings for 2016 declined by an average of 8 percent. That's the largest one-year ratings decline for the NFL in a non-strike season ever. The following figures are declines on top of those declines:  

  • Let's start with Week 1: -12 percent

The NFL started the 2017 season off with a terrible start -- taking last year's 8 percent decline and accelerating it. 

The 12 percent decline on back of the declines from last year led to the lowest audience levels for the sport in 19 years. 

The culprit? 

Hurricane Irma according the league (this despite ratings increases for other sports during the same weekend). Now, I'll buy this for some of the decline, but it's a hard sell convincing me that ratings declines in markets like Chicago and LA are the result of the inability of these people to peel themselves away from Irma coverage.  

  • Week 2 NFL ratings: -15 percent

These numbers don't even factor in the empty seats at the games. 

To be fully pragmatic, weighing the seriousness of the situation of the overall week-to-week ratings may not be the best barometer (in case there are simply games people don't find as compelling). 

To account for those considerations simply looking at "cume" or total viewers might be the best gauge of what's really going on. How many people have watched NFL games compared to this time last year. Here's the answer: 

  • NFL on CBS: down 10 percent
  • NFL on NBC: down 7 percent
  • NFL on Fox: down 5 percent
  • NFL on ESPN: down 5 percent

I said it last year and I'll say it again. 

The demographics of the average NFL fan look an awful lot like those who commonly serve our country in the military or on the police beat. Allowing the ingrates to take a form of entertainment and offensively politicize it, almost certainly isn't acceptable to some. 

In the wake of the increased protesting after the President's comments about the NFL protests - this potentially could ramp up still further. To be continued... 

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