Forbes | It is starting to look like disrespecting the country during the national anthem is accomplishing what the concussions, domestic violence and deflategate could not do–drive down television ratings for the National Football League.
Through two weeks of football the NFL’s television ratings are down across the board. The drop in ratings and viewership is unprecedented in recent years and has occurred during the protest of the national anthem, started by San Francisco 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick. Just last year some opined that the league’s ratings had no ceiling. That appears to be false.
To summarize Sports Business Daily: NBC’s three primetime games, which includes the NFL Kickoff game, have averaged 23.7 million viewers, down 12% from the same period last year. ESPN also is seeing a 12% decline for its three “MNF” games to date. While CBS CBS -0.02% and NFL Network have only one Thursday night game to date, that lone game (Jets-Bills, 15.4 million viewers) was down 27% compared to the opening “TNF” game last season. Looking at Sunday afternoons, Fox is off (-0.2%) through two weeks, averaging 20.9 million viewers. CBS is averaging 17.3 million viewers through the same point, down 5%.
While some suggest that the drop in ratings may be due to the lack of “marquee” match ups, I don’t buy it. For starters, none of the recent PR debacles, such as drugs, beatings or concussions, creating something like #boycotnfl. Two, Kaepernick is the most-disliked player in the NFL. Three, I challenge anyone to look at the comments on stories about the NFL national anthem protests and tell me the anecdotal evidence does not strongly suggest many, if not most viewers are fed up either because they are against the protests, or just don’t want politics of any kind to interfere with their football.