While football still continues to be a mainstream interest in the United States, there’s been a recent drop in NFL TV ratings over the last season with being reported a 12% drop at one point, and an 8% decrease overall in major networks that carry NFL games such as FOX, NBC, CBS, and ESPN.
Many NFL fans and critics alike have given many different reasons why the ratings aren’t as high as they used to be. Some have said that the low ratings are due to a fan boycott over Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem that took place last year. While it’s true that many NFL fans, especially on social media, did threaten to boycott the NFL if Kaepernick wasn’t punished for his protests, critics have differed on whether Kaepernick was the main reason that NFL’s ratings have taken a dive over the past year.
Daniel Roberts from Yahoo Finances has given his reasons why Kaepernick’s actions are in fact the main reason for NFL’s low ratings. He explains that every time there is a Yahoo Finance story on NFL’s low ratings, commenters voice their opinion that Kaepernick’s protest is the biggest reason that it’s happening. “Every time Yahoo Finance has written about the NFL ratings decline, Yahoo readers have shouted in our comments and on Twitter that the biggest reason for the decline is Kaepernick’s anthem protests,” Roberts explained. “Many readers flooded me personally on Twitter with direct messages to hammer home the point. ‘You can try and hide what happened,’ said one.” ‘We have reduced watching the NFL as long as they support the disrespect to our flag. Just tell the NFL that America is taking a knee.’ At first blush, it may be hard to believe a small personal act that takes place before games even begin is causing people to boycott the league. As many outlets wrote early on, there was no hard evidence that any significant number of people were boycotting their watching of the NFL because of their outrage at the protests.”
While many have argued that the national anthem protests were the cause of NFL TV ratings, there’s also a notion among fans that the NFL has been putting too many restrictions when playing the game, which many believe these restrictions are making these games less entertaining to watch. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has even commented his theory why ratings were where they were during a press conference last November. Sherman, like many others, explained that the NFL’s latest restrictions are downplaying the entertainment value to the game. “Every other league you see players have a good time. ‘It’s a game. This isn’t politics. This isn’t justice. This is entertainment and they’re no longer allowing the players to entertain. They’re no longer allowing the players to show any personality. Any kind of uniqueness, any kind of individuality because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging.”
Some have even argued that the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump played a role in the low ratings. There’s no denying that both Trump and Clinton are such huge controversial figures in the political world, but according to a poll by CNBC that can help justify this claim, the majority of 49% of people who took part of the poll agreed that the election was a distraction when asked about low ratings. And who can forget the presidential debates that took place during both Sunday and Monday night football?
My take on this whole situation with NFL ratings being at a low point is a very complicated situation. Some might say that the streaming games on the internet may have something to do it, although, at the same time, streaming games on the web has been around for the past couple of years.
My personal belief about the ratings is there are not many excuses the NFL can make to justify why they’ve been so low. Besides streaming games online, there are not many other options to find a way to watch an NFL game. While the NFL does have an online streaming service called NFL Game Pass, which you can watch condensed games on demand, the price comes at $100 per season. However, it’s worth noting that there are many online TV services that do carry channels like ESPN and FOX which carry NFL games.
It’s going to be pretty interesting to see how the NFL will counter the low ratings situation when this year’s season begins. Colin Kaepernick at this point is still a free agent so that may be a positive for the NFL. However, who knows what’s in store for us when it comes to NFL getting bad publicity. I do personally believe that the NFL ratings will rise this season with Kaepernick being less relevant in the NFL and the election not taking place. We’re just going to have to wait and see.