Once is an accident, twice is a trend. Four times is a new reality.
The NFL’s TV ratings are generally down in 2016, based on an apples-to-apples comparison between the corresponding weeks of the 2015 season.
Via SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight rating for Monday night’s Giants-Vikings game of 9.1 was down eight percent from the 9.9 generated in the same spot by Lions-Seahawks a season ago.
Sunday night’s ratings for Chiefs-Steelers were down 26 percent from Saints-Cowboys a year earlier, the early Sunday Colts-Jaguars game was down 24 percent, and the FOX late-afternoon window was down 10 percent. The FOX 1:00 p.m. ET window also saw a decline, with a 20-percent decline from 2015 to 2016.
In only one window did the league experience a ratings uptick: A two-percent climb in the regional games beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Whether the new reality continues isn’t known, and the reasons for it aren’t clear. Regardless, fewer people are watching the NFL on TV than they were a year ago. If this continues, it will be very hard for the league to experience the kind of growth it expects when the next round of broadcast-rights negotiations commences.
Meanwhile, don’t expect the new reality to change this weekend, when Thursday night’s game pits the 1-3 Cardinals against the 1-3 49ers, the Monday night game features the 1-3 Buccaneers against the 1-3 Panthers, and Giants-Packers on Sunday night competes with the second presidential debate.