ESPN distorts analysis of poll question regarding NFL viewing habits

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The effort to make ESPN not seem like a left-wing media establishment continues, apparently.

At a time when constant (and largely inaccurate) criticism has been registered against ESPN for having a liberal agenda, ESPN has decided to summarize a new poll in a way the definitely isn’t left of center.

Here’s the second paragraph of the article from in-house ESPN sports money man Darren Rovell regarding a recent poll from J.D. Power:  “The pollster said it asked more than 9,200 people who attended either one football, basketball or hockey game whether they tuned into fewer games and why. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason.”

Here’s the far more significant seventh paragraph: “J.D. Power noted that only 12 percent of the fans it surveyed said they watched fewer NFL games last season, with 27 percent of people saying they watched more and 62 percent saying they watched just as much as they had the season before.”

So the more accurate characterization is that 26 percent of 12 percent watched fewer football games in 2016 due to national anthem protests. Or, in other words, 3.12 percent of the 9,200 people who “attended either one football, basketball or hockey game” (an oddly specific parameter) watched fewer football games on TV last year.

There’s another important factor that Rovell’s analysis completely ignored: Market.

As noted by SBNation.com, 22 percent of fans in Chicago watched less football in 2016. Only six percent watched less football last year in Boston.

And that’s where the poll, and the interpretation of it, become worthless. It appears that there wasn’t a “my team stunk last year” option for explaining the lack of interest.

Indeed, it appears that the options were pre-determined and provided in a multiple-choice format. So if “my team stunk last year” wasn’t one of the pre-selected choices, the influence of, for example, the Bears being 3-13 wouldn’t be reflected at all by the 22 percent of Chicagoans who watched less football in 2016.

But, hey, ESPN at least has something else to point to the next time someone from FOX shouts “liberal bias!”

46 responses to “ESPN distorts analysis of poll question regarding NFL viewing habits

  1. as we know, the pats caught espn twice
    asssisting park ave in cheating them

    misrepresenting the facts to defame and
    profit is absolutely disgusting

  2. Can’t we have separation of politics and football? I don’t care about Kaep’s or Brady’s political beliefs, I just want to watch the games.

  3. Research design 101.

    I take most polls with a grain of salt. You can get people to say what you want to hear by putting words in their mouths or not giving them an option to be honest.

    How about this poll:

    If Kaepernick led your team to the Super Bowl would you :

    A: Watch it and root for your team
    B: Watch it and root against your team
    C: Boycott it (because of Kaepernick)
    D: You never watch your team on TV or Live
    E: You have a job that requires you to work that day
    F: Unsure

    Make sure you give a breakdown of demographics too. Age/race/financial/education/etc and a breakdown of those who refused to answer the breakdown.

    Again, RD 101.

  4. I would actually tune in to an NFL game to see an NFL player kneel for the Anthem, while expressing his displeasure for how the bully in the White House is trashing everything this country stands for and is turning this country into more of a laughingstock every day. How can anyone feel patriotic anymore when the so-called president is giving the middle finger to the Constitution all the time??

  5. NFL parity: Jags, Browns, Jets, Chargers in the AFC will suck. Bears, Rams, & 9’ers for the NFC.

    NE, Pit & Raiders will be good for the AFC. GB & Seattle will be fine. Someone will win the east at 9-7,

    Other than that the rest will be .500

  6. By conveniently limiting their sample to those that physically attend games, they have focused on the hardest of the hardcore sports fans that are the least likely to stop watching. It is the casual sports fans that only tune in when they feel like it that the NFL depends on for those juicy broadcast deals and those are the people most likely to have been alienated by the protests.

  7. Informal poll of PFT readers:

    Thumbs up if you attended 1 or more event last year.

    Thumbs down if you didnt.

    I’m curious because I consider myself an avid fan but I haven’t been to a game since 2015.

  8. LOL. Er, yeah, nicely spotted Florio – only 3.12% of sports fans said Kaep’s antics stopped them watching as many football games, so that means he should be a starter? How about you ask the fans who watched his last two seasons in San Francisco where they were a combined 3-16 in the games he started.

  9. At a time when constant (and largely inaccurate) criticism has been registered against ESPN for having a liberal agenda
    ========================================

    Saying it’s “inaccurate” as a statement of fact is laughable.

  10. I get the shock and initial reaction to the protest but good god if you are still that upset by it that you get enraged at the thought of the protest still?

    When Chris Jackson (Turned Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) did this back in the NBA in 1996 (Denver Nuggets) the general public got over it in a couple of weeks.

  11. The polls gave Hillary a 98% chance of winning the election LOL
    ———
    No they didn’t. The polls showed that she couldn’t beat Trump. Sanders beat Trump and Hillary in all the pre election polls. But Hillary could not beat Trump. She couldn’t win a single poll. Nobody should have been shocked when she lost. I’m sure you can still find the results to all of those polls.

    The GOP and the DNC are both overly corrupt. Besides neither party wants me because I prefer to think for myself.

  12. backintheday99 says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:29 AM
    Research design 101.

    I take most polls with a grain of salt. You can get people to say what you want to hear by putting words in their mouths or not giving them an option to be honest.

    How about this poll:

    If Kaepernick led your team to the Super Bowl would you :

    A: Watch it and root for your team
    B: Watch it and root against your team
    C: Boycott it (because of Kaepernick)
    D: You never watch your team on TV or Live
    E: You have a job that requires you to work that day
    F: Unsure

    Make sure you give a breakdown of demographics too. Age/race/financial/education/etc and a breakdown of those who refused to answer the breakdown.

    Again, RD 101.

    _______________________________________

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I will not watch any game Colin Kaepernick is a part of, ever. I don’t care if all he doing is selling beer in the stands, if I find out he’s in the stadium, I’m not watching.

  13. “The GOP and the DNC are both overly corrupt. Besides neither party wants me because I prefer to think for myself.”

    Both parties are utterly and totally corrupt. And Trump has crossed the line and is neither a Republican or Dem. He is a fascist and megalomaniac using the same techniques a certain leader in Germany used

  14. Name an obvious Conservative voice at ESPN………I can’t since Curt Shilling was fired.

    Now name an obvious Liberal voice.

    Screaming A Smith
    Michael Wilbon
    Tony Kornheiser
    Jeremy Schaap
    Scott Van Pelt
    Jemele Hill
    Michael Smith
    just off the top of my head. Some of TV’s biggest race baiters reside at ESPN

  15. metitometin says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:29 AM
    I would actually tune in to an NFL game to see an NFL player kneel for the Anthem, while expressing his displeasure for how the bully in the White House is trashing everything this country stands for and is turning this country into more of a laughingstock every day. How can anyone feel patriotic anymore when the so-called president is giving the middle finger to the Constitution all the time??

    ________________________________________

    Here is yet another whiny liberal’s rant about our President, whom the American people elected. The arrogance to call Trump our “so-called President” is so typical of these liberals. He was elected by the American people because they were fed up with the direction this country has been heading.
    This rant is so ridiculous it’s not even worth tearing apart.
    All I can say is I voted for Donald Trump with two goals in mind — to change the direction of the country and to cancel out a whiny liberal’s vote.
    Thank you Mr. President for trying to get this country back on track. It’s an impossible task because the Dems are hell bent on sabotaging everything you try to do, but don’t give up. We’re still behind you and the bellyaching liberals can whine and cry all they want.
    As for Kaepernick, I hope he never sets foot on an NFL football field again. He is a disgrace.

  16. metitometin says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:29 AM
    I would actually tune in to an NFL game to see an NFL player kneel for the Anthem, while expressing his displeasure for how the bully in the White House is trashing everything this country stands for and is turning this country into more of a laughingstock every day. How can anyone feel patriotic anymore when the so-called president is giving the middle finger to the Constitution all the time??

    ———————

    Gosh, I hate Trump and yet I still think the attitude I read here is worse for America than he is.

    When does regular season start?

  17. feckyerlife says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:14 AM
    LOL your not going to win with this article, ESPN Literraly fired any reporter they had that leaned to the right.

    ————–

    Written like a true Repubilican.

  18. I was taught never to talk religion and politics in a social setting. I can stomach the God is #1 talk but Now politics has boiled over into every last piece of our society and it’s made everything less enjoyable. Espn, NBC is part of the mainstream media that has pushed this narrative to a point where watch those channels as little as possible.

  19. I think 3.12% not watching because of Kaeps antics is kind of high. I myself would have no problem watching a game he is playing in. Especially because my team is going to bury whatever team that has Kaep as their QB and that sort of thing is fun to watch.

  20. I like the game of football. Politically I lean to the left but it is exhausting to tune into a game and be bombarded with all the political crap. I couldn’t care less about the social opinions of players or the sports media personnel.

  21. Maybe people aren’t watching because too many games are decided by the refs favoring certain teams I’m looking at you green bay

  22. “Thank you Mr. President for trying to get this country back on track. ”

    The only people he’s trying to get the country back on track for is his cronies of the 1%. And hes doing so by attempting to steal every penny of public wealth for them at the expense of allowing massive pollution for profit, poisoning of drinking water that millions of people use and splitting up national assets to sell them off to the influence peddlers for pennies

  23. metitometin says:
    How can anyone feel patriotic anymore when the so-called president is giving the middle finger to the Constitution all the time??
    ————
    Dude, Gabunga has been out of office since January.

  24. “And that’s where the poll, and the interpretation of it, become worthless. It appears that there wasn’t a “my team stunk last year” option for explaining the lack of interest.”
    ——————-

    This doesn’t make sense. It’s a zero-sum game – one winner and one loser every match over 256 regular games. Which means while a team may have “stunk” that season, another team did better, so more fans would watch those games.

    Logic would dictate that option of “my team stunk” is pointless and irrelevant to a national poll.

  25. nyneal says:
    Jul 28, 2017 10:26 AM

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I will not watch any game Colin Kaepernick is a part of, ever. I don’t care if all he doing is selling beer in the stands, if I find out he’s in the stadium, I’m not watching.
    ———————-

    Why not?

  26. factschecker says:
    Jul 28, 2017 10:15 AM

    No they didn’t. The polls showed that she couldn’t beat Trump. Sanders beat Trump and Hillary in all the pre election polls. But Hillary could not beat Trump. She couldn’t win a single poll. Nobody should have been shocked when she lost. I’m sure you can still find the results to all of those polls.

    The GOP and the DNC are both overly corrupt. Besides neither party wants me because I prefer to think for myself.
    ———————

    Why are posts by people with “truth” or “fact” as part of their username always devoid of truth or fact?

  27. juice08 says:
    Jul 28, 2017 10:38 AM
    feckyerlife says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:14 AM
    LOL your not going to win with this article, ESPN Literraly fired any reporter they had that leaned to the right.

    ————–

    Written like a true Repubilican.

    ————

    This cracked me up because it can be taken different ways. For one, the comment is clearly stated and articulate.

    Then I started wondering how it would be spoken by a true democrat and I came up with “ESPN literally fired every reporter that was a deplorably ignorant misogynistic intolerant uneducated hate mongering racist” Close? (I see this back and forth all day on Facebook which is why I came to PFT hoping to get a break from it)

    When does the regular season start?

  28. N.F.L. should retire Number 7 league-wide for Colin Kaepernick. His sacrifice’s will someday be recognized.

  29. I only watch the games that are shown on ESPN ; very often with the sound off. I love athletic competition. It is the most pure form of entertainment available. I have no use for their commentary on anything.

  30. tuned into fewer games and why. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason—-

    ————–

    Talk about your bias, far be it from me to defend ESPN but the sentence is exactly right. And as for ESPN not being liberal where’s your proof? just because you say it doesn’t make it true

  31. I can see how if you didn’t know how to read you would think they said something misleading. But for those of us that can read it seems pretty clear they were accurate.

    And they are undoubtedly a left wing organization.

    And they are circling the drain.

  32. Akira1971 says…

    And that’s where the poll, and the interpretation of it, become worthless. It appears that there wasn’t a “my team stunk last year” option for explaining the lack of interest.”
    ——————-

    This doesn’t make sense. It’s a zero-sum game – one winner and one loser every match over 256 regular games. Which means while a team may have “stunk” that season, another team did better, so more fans would watch those games.

    Logic would dictate that option of “my team stunk” is pointless and irrelevant to a national poll.

    Logic has to include that only those who watched fewer games were the ones who gave a reason why, and probably their reason was not “because my team was awesome.” If I say pick a number 1-5, I will probably get 10-30 percent for any of the five digits. If I change it to 1-10, I bet all of the %’s go down. Logically speaking.

  33. I am sorry but I have to disagree that it is largely inaccurate that ESPN has a liberal agenda.
    I am one that probably would be labeled as slightly liberal and even I at times turn ESPN off because I want sports and not the stuff they are doing. I just wish they would somehow come to grips that people want to watch sports for the distraction of every day life not to have their agenda pushed on us.

    I for one never watched game Kaepernick was involved in because his team didn’t play my team and the 49ers were so god awful why watch them? It had nothing to do with his national anthem stance.

  34. nyneal says:
    Jul 28, 2017 10:26 AM
    ————————————-
    backintheday99 says:
    Jul 28, 2017 9:29 AM.

    If Kaepernick led your team to the Super Bowl would you :

    A: Watch it and root for your team
    B: Watch it and root against your team
    C: Boycott it (because of Kaepernick)
    D: You never watch your team on TV or Live
    E: You have a job that requires you to work that day
    F: Unsure

    ____________________________

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I will not watch any game Colin Kaepernick is a part of, ever. I don’t care if all he doing is selling beer in the stands, if I find out he’s in the stadium, I’m not watching.

    ——————-

    So your answer is “C”.

    There you go. An honest answer because I gave you a proper choice.

  35. So, let’s break their percentages, flawed that they are, into real numbers.

    Assume that there are 60 million people who watch the NFL on any given sunday.

    12% watched fewer games: that is a total of 7.2 million people tuning out games.
    3.12% quit watching due to Kaepernick: that is a total of 1.72 million tuning out games.

    In dollar figure to the advertisers (tv networks life blood), assuming the networks payed the NFL $10 Billion last year:

    12 % is $1.2 Billion less the NFL is getting due to ratings; That is a cap hit due the players (approx 50% of gross) of $600 million, or $20 million per team.

    3.12% of that $10 billion is $312 million due to Kaepernick. That is a cap hit of $156 million, or, $5 million per team.

    Poll the players and ask them if they are happy to give up the money for Kaep’s actions.

    Any business who has an employee who costs them 3% of their gross will be rid of him so fast that your head will spin. GUARANTEED!!!

  36. They may not have had an option for “my team stunk last year” but they probably had an option for “other.” Very rarely would a survey include a finite number of options for a reason for doing something without acknowledging that they didn’t cover every possibility.

  37. I get a kick out of trying to show that ESPN is not a left wing media outlet. Give it up, as people point out already, if you say anything that is right of center your gone while Stephen A Smith can call Chip Kelly a racist for trading McCoy even though he was replace at that position by another black guy. So I guess slandering someone is ok if your call a white guy a racist but if you don’t agree with a transgender bill your gone! Last I know Smith is still at ESPN without even a day off. Yep that sounds left wing to me.

  38. I personally don’t believe that Kaepernick had much impact on viewership. If anything, people were watching to watch him suck on a 2 win team. But there is no way I am buying any part of your sales pitch that ESPN doesn’t lean left. Its certainly their right to do whatever they want. But c’mon man.

  39. Kaepernick’s kneeling didn’t have much effect. But ESPN’s effort to manufacture a controversy about it did.

    For me, it made the prospect of raking leaves in my backyard more attractive than casually watching games my team wasn’t involved in.

  40. People who use the words conservative or liberal as invectives are pretty much the worst part of our society. Grow up, we are Americans. Stop with the partisan nonsense.

    Now can we get back to football please?

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