NFL ratings down 7.5 percent for the season

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When it comes to the week-in, week-out NFL ratings, skilled P.R. professionals know how to make bad numbers look good and/or good numbers look bad. Cumulative, all-encompassing numbers are more difficult to spin.

And here are the cumulative, all-encompassing numbers for NFL ratings through six weeks, via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com: The audience is down by 7.5 percent.

Specifically, 15 million people on average watched games for the first six weeks of the year. Last year, the number was 16.2 million. The NFL had no comment on the issue, when contacted by ESPN.

The situation has gotten bad enough to prompt Credit Suisse to lower its price targets for both FOX and CBS stocks.

It’s unclear what the league is doing to address the situation, but the league has every reason to figure out what’s causing the decline, and to then solve it. Although the fees paid by the networks are largely locked in through 2022, it will be difficult if not impossible for the league to avoid taking a haircut in the next round of talks if the league can’t figure out how to spark some Chia-speed growth in viewership.

Last year, it was easy to blame the decline on election coverage. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason. Whatever it is, the decline for the first six weeks of 2017 in comparison to 2016 has grown to 18.7 percent.

And that’s not gonna be good for business.

153 responses to “NFL ratings down 7.5 percent for the season

  1. Are they able to quantify people who watch the games on less-than-legal streams?

    So many people are cutting cable, yet all the MLB playoffs and many primetime games for NFL are on cable networks.

  2. These creeps playing today it’s all about I & Me they could give two craps about the future of the NFL they got theirs

  3. Good! I am also interested in knowing if the sales of licensed NFL products has decreased? This can only get worse for the NFL because as teams drop from playoff contention, more fans of those bad team will tune out altogether.

  4. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.

    =====================================================

    Terrible officiating, terrible offensive line play and offense in general, terrible quarterbacks and politics being shoved down our throat 24/7. It’s not that hard to figure out there.

  5. Hmm, so the new fans who hated football until the players stopped respecting the flag aren’t enough to offset the generations of loyal fans offended by politics infecting their one escape from politics? Wait until you give Goodell an extension, the drop will be measured by Richter scale.

  6. Protests have consequences, and everyone has a right to vote with their wallet. Also, it’s never pleasant to deal with things that make us question our identity as a nation, whatever conclusion we reach. That said, it is the height of hypocrisy that fans are using patriotism to justify their desire to shut down another American’s speech. And yes, I know that employers have the right to restrict speech in the workplace, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many people are using their wallets to shut someone up because it doesn’t suit their politics.

  7. And last year was down 10% and merchandise sales are down 15%.

    So, the value of the league is down 15% of the $9 billion of revenue that was supposed to be increasing

    That makes the average $1.5 billion valuation for teams is closer to $1 billion, really a 33% drop in value

  8. “Last year, it was easy to blame the decline on election coverage. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason. Whatever it is, the decline for the first six weeks of 2017 in comparison to 2016 has grown to 18.7 percent.”
    ________________________________________________________

    The United States People know exactly what the issue is. When you politicize sports, nothing good can come from it.

  9. Like most people, I think it’s obviously because of something I don’t approve of. I always fit things into my narrow political agenda no matter how simple-minded that seems.

  10. The NFL is the only major sports league without a developmental league and it shows in player performance and depth. If the NFL owners look at a “minor” league as a research and development tool to increase the quality of their product rather than an expense, the games will be more exciting to watch. But, as usual, their greed is trumping their common sense.

  11. 1. Stop giving NFL ticket only to Direct TV or show better games. No one cares about Titans vs. Colts.
    2. Hold referees more accountable for getting the correct call and not calling 90% of the penalties on one team.
    3. Stop Thursday night football or fix it.
    4. Speed the game up. It should not take 3.5 hours to watch one game.
    5. As a fan I hate this, but get rid of RedZone channel. Fantasy players watch this and not the games.

  12. Ratings continue to fall among the incessant coverage of kneeling?

    Keep politics out of football.

    It’s a release from regular life… not somewhere for you to shove your viewpoint or concerns for the world down my throat.
    Twitter/Youtube/Blogs like this one/Many other outlets to use for fist raising.

  13. The players kneeling sure doesn’t help and add in streaming which is harder to count plus all the other entertainment options nowadays, it’s not hard to see why TV numbers are declining.
    Now what the NFL and other sports should emphasize is that most people are watching the games live which means the commercials aren’t skipped like when I DVR regular shows. That should make the commercials worth MUCH more.

  14. Do the cumulative ratings include online viewership? These kids nowadays love their phones, but as a luddite I only use an OTA broadcast.

  15. Anthem protests. Roger Goodell running wild. Maybe if the league focused on, oh I don’t know, maybe . . . football, then ratings might creep back up. I believe everyone has the right to express themselves however they want, but when “everything else” becomes the focus over football then you start losing fans.

  16. Everyone knows why the ratings are down. I used to watch most of the day Sunday – 1pm, 4pm and 8:30pm. This season, I have only watched my Buffalo Bills. Then I’m doing stuff for myself and my family. This week, we going to a fall farm and getting pumpkins after the game. I have not purchased any merchandise this year as well. I am a lifetime fan of football and the NFL is the best. These players will be long gone while the league will remain. I speak with my remote control and my wallet. Millions of us have. These players have done this to themselves.

  17. tritz32 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:06 am
    This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.

    =====================================================

    Terrible officiating, terrible offensive line play and offense in general, terrible quarterbacks and politics being shoved down our throat 24/7. It’s not that hard to figure out there.

    21 0 Rate This

    ——————-

    Also, BLATANT cheating by Goodell at the behest of some owners with absolutely ZERO evidence to do so.

    Multiple game suspensions for star players to get them off the field to cheat and manipulate outcomes of games, is consumer fraud. The smart fan sees right through it.

  18. murphyslaw40 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:05 am
    Are they able to quantify people who watch the games on less-than-legal streams?

    So many people are cutting cable, yet all the MLB playoffs and many primetime games for NFL are on cable networks.

    0 3 Rate This

    —————–

    Streaming has nothing to do with the ratings. The streaming options also can track customer views.

    Illegal, crap, grainy streams have been around for years and years.

  19. I think milkcan44 is on to something. When Tiger Woods got hurt golf ratings took a hit because non-golf fans tuned in just to watch him. Losing Rodgers, Watt, and Beckham could have a similar effect. Casual fans who tuned in just to watch special players are tuning out. If Brady goes down…

  20. Last year, it was easy to blame the decline on election coverage. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason. Whatever it is, the decline for the first six weeks of 2017 in comparison to 2016 has grown to 18.7 percent…

    I think we all know the reason for the decline…no use acting confused

  21. Cheer this on if you want to see Goodell shown the door. His only redeeming feature to owners is he’s made them a lot of money. If the gravy train starts to miss stops he’ll be gone.

  22. They lost 3 market views in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland. Years and years of fans who either attended games or watched loyally went away. I’m sure they will get some of those back when LA and Las Vegas start building up fan bases, but the local pub I watch games at (since I don’t want to be forced to buy DirecTV to watch games) in San Diego isn’t going to pay $6000 for Sunday Ticket anymore since none of the locals care about football anymore. I’d love to be able to watch games on cable since my favorite team is out of market, but I guess that won’t be happening until NFL pulls their affiliation with DirecTV. I buy baseball and hockey packages. My cable company doesn’t have football to offer.

  23. My millennial kids don’t watch much football. I used to watch any game and every game regardless of who it was. I still watch my team only because nobody kneeled. I won’t spend anymore cash on merchandise or go to a game ever again at this point. The NFL will eventually die with my age group. 34 to 54. You know, the people who have jobs and spend money and made the NFL what it is.

  24. tritz32 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:06 am
    This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.

    =====================================================

    Terrible officiating, terrible offensive line play and offense in general, terrible quarterbacks and politics being shoved down our throat 24/7. It’s not that hard to figure out there.

    But PFT says …

    This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.

    =====================================================

    SO DIFFICULT TO STATE THE OBVIOUS!
    #MAGA

  25. ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the
    NFL.

    As per Variety, NBA was down 6%.
    Forbes just reported MLB was down 6.4%, even though Yankees great season gained 56%.
    Bloomberg reported that NASCAR is down 12% year over year.

    Clearly, it’s not about the product as most sports viewership are down. But let’s ignore the FACTS and continue to rant about bad officals, Goodell, anthem protests, etc.

  26. The CBA guaranteed a fall off in the quality of the product (while temporarily lining the pockets of the owners and giving the players more time away from the game); the quality of the games is putrid until October at the earliest. The constant, exhausting wrangling between the union and owners and between players and Goodell permeates every game and broadcast and has soured the public beyond New York’s understanding. The continued bombardment of political messages by “commentators” has made watching the NFL difficult. The games are no longer about entertainment but about social commentary. The method employed by the players in advertising their issues is intentionally offensive to at least half of the population. The companies that sponsor the games now must fear a fan backlash and potential boycott by a sector of the consuming public. I muted the games when the announcers begin their required siliques on social justice and race relations until it became so pervasive that I now only watch the Redzone! The players have succeeded in endangering the “golden goose”. The new TV contract will likely REDUCE the salary cap; the wealthy will find new ways to spend their money other than renting luxury suites endangering the firehose of money that usually flows to the owners; the game will lose those fans that revere the flag and anthem; the economic demographics of the fan base will change further eroding the “pie”. This generation of players has endangered the commercial structure of the game – and their futures – perhaps forever.

  27. “Last year, it was easy to blame the decline on election coverage. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.”

    Cluelessness….most of us know the reason, and the NFL does too. Why else do you think the owners met with players yesterday? They are basically trying to put the horse back in the barn by appeasing them so they will stand for the anthem. It won’t work – the damage is already done. Lots of people are fed up with the NFL for a whole host of reasons: sub-par product on the field, declining interest in fantasy football, greedy state governments over regulating DFS, a dishonest commish whose judgement can’t be trusted, weak-kneed discipline for players that beat their wives/girlfriends, draconian discipline for minor infractions of stupid arcane rules, etc.

    The anthem protests were just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I would expect revenue declines over the next several years, and a subsequent lockout. The NFLPA will self-cannibalize and you will see a complete leadership change. An 18 game schedule will be a virtual certainty IMO.

  28. i quit watching on TV because of the kneelers. Season tix are next to be gone. Whole league went down the tubes faster than anyone could imagine. Spit on our flag so who would stick around to watch them.

  29. “it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason” LMAO!!! The decline can easily be attributed to one thing … Goodell. Everything he’s done has only accomplished in making the game LESS interesting. Allowing political views to infiltrate the game is just one more thing he’s done to ruin the NFL for most of us.

  30. Tell me, if 2016 was down due to “election coverage” and not the Kaepernick kneeling protests, then what’s the viewership decline from 2015 to current? If we’re 18.7% for the first 6 games of ’17 vs. ’16, then the decline must be even greater from ’15. As you said, you can spin the numbers from week-to-week, but what’s the total viewership decline from pre-Kaepernick to current, please? 30% A loss of almost 1 in 3 viewers?

  31. It’s just a bad product they’re putting out on the field. I used to spend my entire Sunday watching games all day, now it’s very rare to find a game that doesn’t involve the team I root for that captures my interest. I find college football a lot more enjoyable these days. It’s easy to blame the protests but there is a ton of bad football being played. Good teams draw interest and there just aren’t any good teams that make for compelling matchups

  32. If it was “easy” to blame it last year on election coverage, then it should be easy to blame it on “protests of the flag and anthem” this year.

    But let’s look at the big picture. What took place both last year and this year . . . yeah, that’s right . . . PROTESTS OF THE FLAG AND ANTHEM.

  33. Unless you are being intentionally obtuse, there is little doubt to the causes. Terrible teams, poorly played games, political & social commentary, cord cutting, along with a myriad of other reasons have lead to the decline. However, the fallout because of the anthem protests can no longer be swept under the rug as a big factor. The media has intentionally been trying to bury it’s factor in the ratings decline since last season.

    Personally, the protests & all the residual nonsense stemming from it is the main reason I no longer watch 4-5 games a week. I only watch my local team’s game and skip every other game. And I only tune into the game after the kickoff. Social & political commentary is unwanted during any sporting event I am viewing. Continuing it will make my current viewing habit permanent.

  34. Vegas should offer odds on which will decline faster, NFL TV ratings or Trump’s approval ratings.

  35. That’s what happens when you invoke political crap into a kids game adults are playing for live entertainment. K.I.S.S. – keep it simple stupid is what I tell my students. NFL needs to tell it’s liberal hives with NFL rights like ESPN/FOX and other outlets to stop damaging their product by slinging racial garbage at everyone, it’s just tiresome and unwarranted to regular ppl who don’t have time for racism workshops on Sunday. Just what I want on Sunday on 1pm is to relax, I don’t care about your feelings, grow up. If you’re not my wife or kid – you’re feelings are irrelevant particularly when you’re on the job. If I ranted politically at work and were 25ish, you know what would eventually happen to me, problems in way of $ get solved.

  36. akira554 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:30 am
    ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the
    NFL.

    As per Variety, NBA was down 6%.
    Forbes just reported MLB was down 6.4%, even though Yankees great season gained 56%.
    Bloomberg reported that NASCAR is down 12% year over year.

    Clearly, it’s not about the product as most sports viewership are down. But let’s ignore the FACTS and continue to rant about bad officals, Goodell, anthem protests, etc.

    ——

    with all the people that dumped the NFL and went to NASCAR, you’d think that they’d be on the upswing.

  37. Social issue advocacy which causes division is not good for business but the NFL and players will only learn this when they start making less money, which will prompt changes.

  38. I’m doing the same thing now that many on here have said – Made a conscious decision not to watch as much of the NFL as I used to. I might watch my team and if I do that is the only game I’ll watch for the week. For the first time in a long time my son and I aren’t taking a trip to see a game in person and we haven’t bought any merchandise this year, either.

    When I made the decision I thought that I’d miss it but quite honestly I haven’t missed it at all. I still keep up on the news from sites like PFT, but unlike 3-4 years ago when I’d read almost every article I just kind of skim the headlines and only read a few. Improve the refs, stop it with what seems constant litigation in courts over stuff, improve the on-field product and keep the politics out of it and I might consider coming back. Otherwise, I’m fine with the extra time to get things done around the house on a Sunday afternoon.

  39. cardinealsfan20 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:32 am
    Why are alleged NFL fans here hoping for the NFL to fail? It is totally illogical to cheer for the failure of something that you claim to love.
    ____________________________________

    The simple answer is because we want change. The easiest way to get change, is for the NFL to suffer losses which make change necessary. Hitting large corporations in the pocket books is how you get their attention.

    And you can still root for your favorite while also rooting against the machine.

  40. It’s going to get worse. Losing stars like Rodgers, Beckham, Watt, etc. is going to have an effect. Goodell preaches player safety but does nothing to help. Also on going political protests by millionaires are turning people off. Turn off the NFL, get outside and enjoy the wonderful fall weather.

  41. akira554 says: ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the NFL. (NBA was down 6%, MLB was down 6.4%, NASCAR is down 12%)
    —————————–

    The NHL dropped 14% in the US year over year.

    Sorry about the interruption with FACTS. Please continue to rant about Goodell, bad officials, anthems, standing/not standing, etc.

  42. Roger Goodell has systematically ruined the NFL step by step in my opinion. Fining only the black guy held positions for big hits was the beginning of the end and all this crap about protecting the white guy held position of quarterbacks didn’t help drive that home. Then pile on how he just sentences the mostly black guys to this or that without judge or jury, takes their extremely hard earned $$ for his social experiments on the field. Treats them with udder disrespect as employees trying to get 18 games, seriously dude, that was the worst for me being a trainer. I can’t even begin on the whole Ray Rice to Deflategate thing that was abject disaster all the way around. Now, this…..WOW you’re fired

  43. Are cord cutters already accounted for in ratings? Isn’t the “share” the percent of households with a TV tuned into a program?

    from wiki:

    The most commonly cited Nielsen results are reported in two measurements: ratings points and share, usually reported as: “ratings points/share”. As of 2013, there were an estimated 115.6 million television households in the United States, up 1.2% from the previous year because of the inclusion of televisions that receive content over the Internet. A single national ratings point represents 1% of the total number. Nielsen re-estimates the number of television-equipped households each August for the upcoming television season.
    Share is the percentage of television sets in use that are tuned to the program. For example, Nielsen may report a show as receiving a 9.2/15 during its broadcast; this would mean that out of all television-equipped households, 9.2% were tuned in to that program, and out of all television-equipped households with a television currently in use, 15% were tuned in to that program.

  44. akira554 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:30 am
    ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the
    NFL.

    As per Variety, NBA was down 6%.
    Forbes just reported MLB was down 6.4%, even though Yankees great season gained 56%.
    Bloomberg reported that NASCAR is down 12% year over year.

    Clearly, it’s not about the product as most sports viewership are down. But let’s ignore the FACTS and continue to rant about bad officals, Goodell, anthem protests, etc.
    ———-

    Difference is these other leagues have been experiencing the decline for several years.

    The NFL was experiencing large gains up to last year where viewership took a massive hit. It was blamed on all the reasons above plus the election. This year they are getting another massive drop. Did it spike? possibly. But I find it hard to believe one year you have gains and the next year you have a massive loss without some sort of explanation. Just listen to the people speaking. They are telling you their viewership is down. You may disagree with what they are saying, but people are not watching as many games. Me, myself , I find it hard to watch a lot of these games, it’s been a bad product. I am a religious watcher, but I didn’t even turn the Monday night game on until late in the 3rd and that was to just check the score for pick ’em league purposes. People watch for entertainment. Once it is not entertaining they will no longer watch.

  45. Hey, boycotters. How are those boycotts of Target and Kellogg’s working out for you? Not a single Target store has closed and the grocery store shelves continue to have plenty of cereal.

  46. akira554 says: ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the NFL. (NBA was down 6%, MLB was down 6.4%, NASCAR is down 12%, NHL is down 14%)
    —————————–

    The 2017 MLS season dropped 8% viewership according to World Soccer Talk.

    Sorry about the interruption with FACTS. Please continue to rant about Goodell, bad officials, anthems, standing/not standing, etc.

  47. Illegal, crap, grainy streams have been around for years and years.
    =====

    So true. And the best source imaginable.

    Pats fans know all about illegal taping.

  48. This is only going to get worse, to the point the networks will sue to get out of those deals,possibly forcing the NFL to void and renegotiate the CBA. Destroying the union long term, everyone who politicized the league deserves a pat on the back! #socialwarriors

  49. They’ve over-saturated the market. Frankly the protests aren’t my favorite, but they don’t bother me nearly as much as London games and Thursday night football. Get rid of those. Make Sundays special again.

  50. Keep putting Colts/Titans in primetime slots and I guarantee the trend will continue. Turns out the ultimate reason behind the drop is the networks picked the wrong match-ups to air nationally.

  51. I think it’s pure demographics. The older devoted fans are dying off, their firstborn are tiring of all thecdrame, politics, exorbitant salaries, public attitudes, criminal element, etc. The younger fans just don’t care. It’s not their thing.

    It has NOTHING to do with the kneeling protesters.

  52. Speaking as a longtime rabid NFL fan, I stopped watching when the Kneelathon began and I would estimate that 75%+ of my friends have also. While I realize this is anecdotal, I’ve got to believe this is probably pretty typical around the country after seeing the ratings drop and so many stadiums with open seats. I said it weeks ago – the NFL has no idea the damage it has done, and it is long term damage.

  53. NBA has had it right for decades. The popularity of that sport is growing. The Kneeling Football league just added another competitor for eyes starting last night. Nike and Ford support the Kneeling Football Leagues protests against the country.

  54. Oh one more short comment on this. I’ve been a fan for 45 years. About two years ago something changed for me. The NFL just didn’t seem as exciting as it was. Couldn’t put my finger on it. For me, I think it’s games on too many days. So if the NFL doesn’t change that, I wonder, if others have done like I’ve done. I just tune in for brief periods, and some games I just don’t bother watching. I’ll check scores on my phone or whatever. I have other things to do. Even 5 years ago I couldn’t imagine doing that. Now I don’t give it a second thought.

  55. cardinealsfan20 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 11:02 am
    Hey, boycotters. How are those boycotts of Target and Kellogg’s working out for you? Not a single Target store has closed and the grocery store shelves continue to have plenty of cereal.
    _____________________________________

    Maybe you should try reading the Business section of the WSJ or least read about it on the Internet. Both Target and Kellogg’s are hemorrhaging money right now. Both stocks are down and projections for the future are flat at best. Kellogg’s has laid off more than 1000 employees and Target has withdrawn plans to expand its number of stores.

  56. akira554 says: ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the NFL. (NBA was down 6%, MLB was down 6.4%, NASCAR is down 12%, NHL is down 14%, MLS is down 8%)
    —————————–

    The PGA tv ratings is a complete disater. Without Tiger Woods, it’s off 65% from 2008 peak. Yikes.

    Sorry about the interruption with FACTS. Please continue to rant about Goodell, bad officials, anthems, standing/not standing, etc.

  57. Remove the anthem from nfl games and problem solved, the players won’t have an opportunity to protest and the media won’t have an opportunity to make a big deal about something that doesnt matter.

  58. I haven’t watch the NFL for the last 3 weeks, even though I have been following my team since ’61. Now, I don’t watch my team anymore. I have moaned and groaned and gotten a tad mad about what is going on right now. No more. I want the ratings to get a real bad hit. The same for the sales of merchandise. I want the sponsors to take notice. The only way I guess that the NFL and the players start to smell the coffee is for them to get hit hard. If you are biting the hand that feeds you, you only have yourself to blame for being bit.

  59. The answer to this question is the REDZONE CHANNEL. I guarantee the audience of RZ has sky high growth and eating into Fox/CBS.
    =====

    Perfect!

    Ditch the networks, offer me NFL pay-per-view! That’s all I’ve wanted for 20 years!

  60. I can tell you I used to watch every TNF, SNF, MNF, my team and then another game on the other time slot…… Ever since everything has gotten way too political, I watch pretty much only my team, with the occasional division rival. If my team sucked right now, I might not even watch them. If this doesn’t get fixed by the end of this year, I may move on depending how bad the political commentary and articles are and how good my team is. I have hope that it will work itself out though. The NFL knows what is going on and they may not be forcing the players to stand but they are making them aware that the decisions they are making is affecting the brand as a whole and ultimately them. Fox has also already said they will stop airing who is sitting or kneeling during the anthem so now it is just a matter of how many other networks are willing to sacrifice viewership to force their political agenda down everyone else’s throats or how many other sports sites like this one want to keep up with the politics. ESPN has been hurting for years. All these other sports sites will suffer as well if they don’t change.

    You all want to keep making this about left vs right, liberals vs conservatives, democrats vs republicans and while there are some that feel that way….. I think you are missing the big picture and that is that (I think) the majority of sports fans just don’t want to talk politics when instead they want to talk sports. There are enough political networks and political sites out there to get our political fix. Too many are just being selfish trying to force their ideologies down people’s throats in mediums not intended for politics.

  61. This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.

    Because there are so many that have nothing to do with the actual game on the field. More time is given to protests, causes, replay.

  62. Let’s see, you have to have access to network television, NFL network, ESPN and now Amazon prime to watch all of the games. Besides the ever expanding array of media options you need to have to watch your favorite game, we have the whole kneeling during the national anthem controversy which shouldn’t be a controversy at all. Yes, I am not watching as much as I did last year.

  63. The bottom line is that the protesters do not have the ability to remove even $1 from any fan’s bank account. The flip side is that those of us who hate the protesters can definitely affect player salaries in amounts that have many more zeroes after that $1.

  64. The NFL’s average TV audience (including Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night games) slid to 15.156 million viewers through Week 5 of the 2017 season. That’s down 7.42 percent from an average of 16.371 million viewers through the same period of the 2016 season, and 18 percent down from the average of 18.438 million viewers through the first five weeks of the 2015 season.”

    Wait it’s down 2 consecutive years? This has to be a mistake, this is ONLY a result of politics right!

  65. akira554 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:30 am
    ALL major league sports are experiencing tv viewership decline, not just the
    NFL.

    As per Variety, NBA was down 6%.
    Forbes just reported MLB was down 6.4%, even though Yankees great season gained 56%.
    Bloomberg reported that NASCAR is down 12% year over year.

    Clearly, it’s not about the product as most sports viewership are down. But let’s ignore the FACTS and continue to rant about bad officals, Goodell, anthem protests, etc.
    _______________________

    These are just abstract numbers without any context. Basically meaningless if not accompanied by the bigger picture.

  66. really2011 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 11:49 am
    Wait it’s down 2 consecutive years? This has to be a mistake, this is ONLY a result of politics right!
    ___________________________

    Unless you are living in imaginationland, it is not a coincidence.

  67. weepingjebus says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:07 am
    Hmm, so the new fans who hated football until the players stopped respecting the flag aren’t enough to offset the generations of loyal fans offended by politics infecting their one escape from politics? Wait until you give Goodell an extension, the drop will be measured by Richter scale.

    —————————————-

    Are you dull? How has the post 9/11 NFL been an escape from politics? The government pays for political displays worshiping the symbols of the state. A handful of people don’t want to worship the state and suddenly it’s becoming political strictly because you now do not agree with the worship (or lack thereof). Grow up.

  68. Does anyone seriously tune in to watch the national anthem being played? I don’t. I channel surf until I know the game has begun. Hell, I think it’s also fair to ask, does anyone stand up for the national anthem in their living rooms? I seriously doubt anyone does.

  69. It’s quite obvious from reading the comments that Americans have no idea how TV audiences are measured. But that is not going to stop them from pretending that they matter. There is no magical ferry that knows what you personally are watching. You have to be part of the Nelson rating system to actually be factored into the rating figures. If you are not part of the “Nelson family” it doesn’t matter what you watch, how much you watch or how many people are or are not watching with you.

  70. “This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.”

    Shouldn’t be hard to figure out. There’s a number of theories about why viewership numbers are down. NBC has enough reach, they could do polling to at least narrow down which theories hold the most credibility. Some sample questions:

    1. How many NFL games do you watch per week?
    2. Over the past 3 years, has that number increased, decreased, remained the same?
    3. If you answered “increased” or “decreased” to question 2, state the reason for the change.

  71. Advertisers know the ‘pretend patriot brigade’ led by the idiot-in-chief is a finite number of blowhards who are not part of their marketing target anyway unless they sell beef jerky, bowie knives, survival gear, and dime-store flags. So the 7.5 figure is meaningless.

  72. The NFL ratings peaked. It would be impossible to maintain. This forum likes the anthem explanation, which is probably involved. But these factors seem like more impactful across all demographics 1) cord cutting, 2) NFL overreach on their strategy of artificial scarcity (fans are stuck with too many lame in-market games, lame primetime games, or else spending huge $$ on DirectTV or NFL Ticket streaming) combined with easy alternative access, and most of all 3) a steady increase in teams and league parity, matched with lukewarm quality of teams and contests.

  73. “factschecker says:
    October 18, 2017 at 11:59 am

    It’s quite obvious from reading the comments that Americans have no idea how TV audiences are measured…. You have to be part of the Nelson rating system to actually be factored into the rating figures.”
    ————————————

    Nelson ratings? Who has no idea how TV audiences are measured?

  74. You kneel on our flag, I sit out on you. I don’t need the creeps that play in the NFL being my moral compass. Abusers, addicts, cheaters, divas, alcoholics, and killers are going to tell everyone how to live now and what our country needs to fix. No thanks I will find other forms of entertainment to watch. Fix your own league and then try and fix the country.

  75. Jake Jacobson says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:20 am
    I think milkcan44 is on to something. When Tiger Woods got hurt golf ratings took a hit because non-golf fans tuned in just to watch him. Losing Rodgers, Watt, and Beckham could have a similar effect. Casual fans who tuned in just to watch special players are tuning out. If Brady goes down…

    *****************************************************************************************
    It isn’t that people watch just for these players individually, it’s that their teams’ matchups are not as compelling without them on the field. For example, Green Bay vs. Dallas with Rodgers vs. without Rodgers.

  76. joel418 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:10 am
    Protests have consequences, and everyone has a right to vote with their wallet. Also, it’s never pleasant to deal with things that make us question our identity as a nation, whatever conclusion we reach. That said, it is the height of hypocrisy that fans are using patriotism to justify their desire to shut down another American’s speech. And yes, I know that employers have the right to restrict speech in the workplace, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many people are using their wallets to shut someone up because it doesn’t suit their politics.
    **************************************************
    You should listen to yourself once in a while.

  77. joel418 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:10 am
    Protests have consequences, and everyone has a right to vote with their wallet. Also, it’s never pleasant to deal with things that make us question our identity as a nation, whatever conclusion we reach. That said, it is the height of hypocrisy that fans are using patriotism to justify their desire to shut down another American’s speech. And yes, I know that employers have the right to restrict speech in the workplace, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many people are using their wallets to shut someone up because it doesn’t suit their politics.
    ——————————————————————————

    Nobody is shutting down anyone’s free speech.

    The beauty of free speech is that someone else can react to what you are saying in their own way. A large segment of people are reacting to what the players are doing by simply not watching.

    You cant have it both ways. Its not hypocrisy. Its called cause and effect. The players didnt take into account the effects of their “protests” before they started doing them.

  78. NBA has had it right for decades. The popularity of that sport is growing.

    Really? Because I changed the channel this morning when they tried to recap some game from last night. NBA sucks…and don’t even get me started with NASCAR…yah, I want to watch people drive around in a circle for 3-5 hours – right after the international paint-drying competition is over!!!

  79. Specifically, 15 million people on average watched games for the first six weeks of the year. Last year, the number was 16.2 million
    ______________________________________________-
    Last year was down because of the “election”. So you need to compare the numbers to 2015 season.

  80. tylawspick6 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

    murphyslaw40 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:05 am
    Are they able to quantify people who watch the games on less-than-legal streams?

    So many people are cutting cable, yet all the MLB playoffs and many primetime games for NFL are on cable networks.

    0 3 Rate This

    —————–

    Streaming has nothing to do with the ratings. The streaming options also can track customer views.

    Illegal, crap, grainy streams have been around for years and years.

    ——————

    Streaming isn’t illegal in the United States yet. (Per the US Courts)

    And there are 720 HD Streams now if you know where to look.

  81. joel418 says:
    “And yes, I know that employers have the right to restrict speech in the workplace, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many people are using their wallets to shut someone up because it doesn’t suit their politics.”

    You’re kidding, right? What could PO$$IBLY be the rea$on and factor that people become politician$?

  82. cardinealsfan20 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 10:32 am
    Why are alleged NFL fans here hoping for the NFL to fail? It is totally illogical to cheer for the failure of something that you claim to love.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    This is not the NFL I loved. I watch my team now and maybe another game if it is a great matchup. I used to plan my Sundays around the NFL. Now I watch the NFL if I don’t have not planned to do anything. My team stinking makes it even less likely that I will watch. There was a time when the NFL was difficult to turn off. Now with all the garbage… it’s difficult to turn on. I have had the Sunday Ticket since it began….. This is my last year. I even gave them a chance this year to stop the nonsense. They haven’t done it. So I will likely be one who saves thousands by getting rid of network TV. I only purchased DirecTV because of the NFL. No need for them any longer.

  83. NFL these days is a lot like the Big 3 automakers in the 1970s:

    – poor product quality
    – defensive and hostile to their customers
    – no overseas market though the CEOs say otherwise
    – voracious appetite for public funding
    – abandoning once loyal communities to chase revenue from “hot” markets
    – biggest fish in a shrinking pond; nowhere to run or adapt
    – lobbying has taken over for competing
    – consumers have quality alternatives from companies who treat them well (Hulu and Netflix are the Datsun and Toyota of this era)

    When the wellspring of customer loyalty is poisoned, it seldom recovers.

    NFL 2017 = your father’s Oldsmobile…

  84. Funny, lot of people commenting that the drop is “obviously” related to the kneeling controversy. I hate to tell you, you are wrong. The NFL ratings have been trending down for the past couple of years. Further, MLB is down 6%. NBA is down 14% and, the pinnacle of patriotism—– NASCAR— down 42% in 3 years. So unless you believe that the kneeling controversy has caused people to stop watching sports altogether…especially in NASCAR….then this “obvious” correlation between the controversy and lower ratings has no validity. #comeonman

  85. Ratings down because the product on the field stinks. It has nothing to do with the flag. I don’t want to see 8-8 teams. Football in the 80s was better

  86. Ratings are down because of all the rule changes (same thing happened to Nascar) coupled with all the political crap that’s turning people off. As soon as they start talking about who’s standing or not I tune out.

  87. >staff2cj says:
    >October 18, 2017 at 1:32 pmRatings down because the product on the field stinks. It has >nothing to do with the flag. I don’t want to see 8-8 teams. Football in the 80s was better

    I personally have watched at least 75% less football this season due to protests. I will be spending 100% less on merchandise and tickets.

  88. I watch football because I love the game. I do not care to hear political opinions from players or network personnel. Period.

  89. “This year, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise reason.”

    Well, I guess that might be true if your paycheck is derived from the Network media, who intentionally divert people’s attention away from the elephants in the room & you as a employee ‘must not speak the truth’ for fear of being replaced by a different ‘voice box’ of propaganda. But fortunately, I’m not held to that limitation…so here it is in a nut shell (and it’s not hard to pinpoint):

    Constantly changing the rules, over-officiating the games too the point of nausea, eliminating the role of defenses & over emphasizing the value of offenses, building up certain players while converting them to a protected class of players (where rules don’t apply equally to all)…was a pretty significant starter. And now, the NFL players just wants to insult &/or offend the collective population of Americans, while the league & owners refuse to stop them. Taken together, what’s there to like? I can say I watch &/or spend a small fraction of what I use to…and I don’t see that changing. On top of that, I no longer have the inclination to pass on the NFL tradition to my kids. Why would I (or anyone) ever want my kids to think this way of thinking/acting is either acceptable or appropriate?

  90. Are college football ratings tanking? NO. How is college football different from NFL football? No anthem protests. Ding, ding ding, there is your answer.

  91. Get all the BS politics out of football and stop trying to make the league international. It’s an American sport keep it that way. Fans don’t want games in London or any other place.

  92. 345snarkavenue says:

    October 18, 2017 at 10:15 am

    wait….I thought the majority of fans are boycotting, and therefore the ratings should be down 51% or more?

    —————————————————————————————

    Your point? And how about all those that promised to leave the country if Trump won the election? Unfortunately, I see they are ALL still here. Promises, promises…

  93. mnrasslinggovjesse says:
    October 18, 2017 at 11:33 am
    ^Target stock has generally risen lately.
    Anyway, sort of funny that this is hurting the stock of FAUX I mean FOX.

    —————————————————-

    Perhaps you should actually take a look at TGT performance before stating such things:

    Target (TGT) 52 Week Performance -10.67%
    S&P 500 Index 52 Week Performance +19.62%

    Earnings are down. My household will NOT shop at that store.

  94. I commented above about how limiting the NFL product to DirecTV is why I don’t purchase the football package each year. I refuse to change from cable to satellite because it’s the only way to get out of market football games. Oddly enough, all of my San Diego friends lost the Chargers and have given up on that team, but that isn’t stopping the NFL from making the Chargers the only game available in the San Diego market. LOL. Here’s a carrot NFL! Give them a different game. They just might watch. I believe kneeling, poor product, spreading the games out and the Commissioner all play a part in why the NFL is failing. Goodell has done nothing but make mess after mess, and he was rewarded rather than punished. He makes $44 million to be a terrible commissioner. With that said, London games come on at 6:30 am on Sundays in California. No one is getting up to watch that game. Thursday games don’t even start until 8:30 on Thursday on the East Coast. Football was meant for Sunday and maybe one weeknight (Monday) per week, not two. The sacrifice of watching the Thursday night game in its entirety and then being productive at work the next day is sketchy at best.

  95. I’ve said for a LONG time that Goodell is a idiot (His poor handling on the concussion issue, Ray Rice, Deflategate, Josh Brown, Approving the relocation of the Rams and Chargers, Ezekiel Elliott) And the only thing going for him was “Well look at the NFL’s ratings they’re great!”

    Then they jumped on the Social Justice bandwagon which has been shown to backfire (ESPN, MTV, CNN) which decreased their ratings last year. All they had to do is follow their own rules and have Kaepernick stand as part of its own league policy. As soon as it died out they then overreacted to Trump’s statements and offended a huge portion of their fan base. The league’s failure to apply their own rules while refusing to admit their mistake is costing them.

  96. I canceled my Directv sunday ticket after the anthem protests. The woman at customer service for ATT DirecTv said that she’s been canceling them all day, the day before and the day before that. They were instructed not to argue or persuade fans from canceling because there were a lot of upset sunday ticket owners. Even though ATT/DirecTv haven’t announced how many cancellations, I’m sure the NFL and Goodell know. And at $400 per subscriber, the NFL is out a LOT of money from boycotting fans. #Fact

  97. My father served in the United States Army, twice. He has been a lifelong NFL fan. We have had season tickets for over 50 years. Last year, he started watching fewer games. This year, he turned off the NFL after many players started to kneel down during the National Anthem. Last year, I watched every NFL game I could watch, NFL Sunday Ticket, RedZone, DVR delay, etc. This year, I have watched about 20% as much as last year. I don’t think I will give up our season tickets, I know my father would say yes, but I have control of the account now. I think I will probably keep out tickets next year, but if this goes much further, I might soon be a former NFL fan.

    I have spent many tens of thousands of dollars on the NFL over the decades. I have been to a couple of hundred regular season games (home and away) multiple playoff games (home and away) and I have been to multiple Super Bowls. If you are getting close to losing me, you should count yourself “lucky” that viewership is only down 7.5% for the year. It can get much, much worse.

  98. So tired of people’s self-righteous politicking. There are those looking for an excuse to get worked up, well try it when some unarmed black man gets shot again for no reason because that’s what the protest is about – the protestors are saying they feel their country does not care for them or protect them or give them due process or treat them equitably – instead of preening and posturing try and prove that their country does care for them equally because the rest of the world looking at you all does not see it.

    As for the ratings … Those first three weeks of the NFL this year were not good football – Nobody plays in pre-season anymore and so teams came into the opening weeks running ragged offenses – even some of the better teams – Week 4 and 5 were fun then too many weird bad things in week 6 – some games look fixed – lots of last minute spread changing stuff happening in games – and I don’t actually believe they are fixed – never attribute to malice that which can be blamed on stupidity – their refs and rulings from booths in other cities is bush league – That was a TD by ASJ!

  99. Is it OK for me to refer to the kneelers as pigs like Kaepernick did the police by wearing pig socks? If yes, then, in my opinion Kaepernick and his band of kneeling pigs are responsible for people walking away.

  100. jor689 says:
    October 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm
    I canceled my Directv sunday ticket after the anthem protests. The woman at customer service for ATT DirecTv said that she’s been canceling them all day, the day before and the day before that. They were instructed not to argue or persuade fans from canceling because there were a lot of upset sunday ticket owners. Even though ATT/DirecTv haven’t announced how many cancellations, I’m sure the NFL and Goodell know. And at $400 per subscriber, the NFL is out a LOT of money from boycotting fans. #Fact
    ____
    I’m sorry, I have to call BS on this, or you were given false information. There is no way a customer service rep would ever be told not to persuade someone to not cancel their product, ever!!! My NFL pass auto renewed when I thought I had cancelled it (I was travelling all last year and I needed it to watch Panthers game but am back in Charlotte) and I cannot get out of it.

  101. Here’s the thing: There is 15 maybe 20 minutes max of actual action during the 60 minute clock which takes 3.5 hours to run out. So you have 3.2 hours of filler crap. Add on the politics and I am walking the dog.

  102. It’s no one thing. I’m a 34 year old guy. Here’s why I care less. And I have loved it since I was five. I used to watch from 7 AM pregame shows until it went off the air past midnight sometimes. Here’s why I am turned off or care less. I also think my age, gender, and race are the majority audience of the NFL. I am in the segment the NFL should work the hardest to maintain.

    1) The Kaepernick/Politics in Football. Huge mistake. Just a turn off
    2) It’s a flag fest. The product on field is just missing sizzle. It’s just a poor watch. Too many penalties, negated TD’s, negated big plays, bad calls. Officiating is terrible.
    3) Injuries constantly to star players. I don’t want to watch the Raiders without Derek Carr. I’m not interested in the Packers without Aaron Rodgers. It’s a QB league. When these guys go down, unless I have absolutely no other sports to watch, I’m not tuning in.
    4) NFL badly needs to develop or have new stars develop as ‘face of the league’. Brady and Rodgers are getting older. Prescott, Newton, Watson, etc. are all guys who make me want to tune in. They need these guys to work out.
    5) Guys my age have young children. I have a one year old and near three-year old. I have to make deals with my wife to see a specific (usually Dallas) game. Otherwise, my kids won’t let me watch 3 games in a day. Many guys in my age bracket have young kids. It’s exhausting. A lot of times if they take a nap around those 1:00 games; if no one interesting is on; I’m taking a nap too. Has to be a marquee game or I’ll just let my kids win and watch bubble guppies.

  103. gpclaw says:
    October 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm
    ————————————————-

    1. How many NFL games do you watch per week?
    0-1.
    2. Over the past 3 years, has that number increased, decreased, remained the same?
    Decreased drastically.
    3. If you answered “increased” or “decreased” to question 2, state the reason for the change.
    Nothing to do with national anthem protesters. If anything I’ve been following it more because of the controversy. Realized it’s a huge waste of time and meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Time is better spent stirring the pot here on PFT.

  104. The NFL had rising viewership numbers every year until NFL players started sitting/kneeling for the national anthem.

    After the 2015 season it was reported that there was no reason to think there was any ceiling to the ever-increasing viewership numbers either.

    Then Kaepernick happened.

    The precipitous drop began immediately after the NFL allowed, and continued to allow, their employees to protest while on the job.

    This isn’t rocket science. It’s business. People tune into football to watch a game, for entertainment, not to see players engaging in political protests.

    The NFL has nothing to gain by allowing their employees to protest while on the job. Viewers watch football so they can can escape from things like politics, if only for a few hours. If their escape becomes tainted by what they’re escaping from, they’ll simply look elsewhere to be entertained.

  105. The first poster asked if “less-than-legal streams” are figured into ratings. I can answer: Yes. The Nielsen ratings aren’t based upon what you “say” you watch or what channels you tune-in to on your television. Rather, they are based upon sound.

    If you watch a program on television, the Nielsen “smart people meters” pick up the sounds and detects the programming. So, it is factored in whether you watch the program on your TV, computer monitor, laptop, tablet or cell phone. In fact, Nielsen even determines radio ratings using the same “people meters.”

    Of course, those who use headphones wouldn’t have their ratings count. However, Nielsen provides an adapter for headphone users so that their programming is also included in the ratings.

  106. I canceled my Directv sunday ticket after the anthem protests. The woman at customer service for ATT DirecTv said that she’s been canceling them all day, the day before and the day before that… And at $400 per subscriber, the NFL is out a LOT of money from boycotting fans. #Fact
    =====

    Fact – DirecTV pays $1.5 billion/year (current deal through 2022) for the right to NFL Programming (Sunday Ticket, Game Mix, Redzone, ect)

    By cancelling your service, you’re not hurting the NFL, just DirecTV. The NFL isn’t losing a dime.

    Your actions, and those of others, MAY lead DirecTV to drop the package at some point in the future.. but considering its one of the driving factors behind that brand, its very doubtful.

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