Ratings decline for wild card round, Goodell says NFL still dominant on TV

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TV ratings were down sharply for the wild card round of the playoffs, but the NFL is still emphasizing its strong ratings relative to everything else on TV.

The four wild card games were down 13 percent from last year’s ratings, and last year was down from the year before. That’s not a great sign for the league.

But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is emphasizing that the NFL still out-draws other sports and entertainment on American television.

“I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear,” Goodell said, adding that NFL games were 37 of the 50 most-watched programs in 2017.

Goodell is right that the league is dominant on television but how long can that remain the case as ratings keep declining? Eventually, the NFL needs to reverse this trend. This year’s playoffs don’t seem to be the time when that will happen.

86 responses to “Ratings decline for wild card round, Goodell says NFL still dominant on TV

  1. Ratings go down EVERY YEAR because upcoming generations are cutting the TV cable.
    It doesn’t mean fewer viewers,
    it means more viewers are finding alternatives to viewing on TV.

  2. Well, anymore games like Buffalo/ Jacksonville and the ratings will plummet. That was a terrible game.

  3. Millennials didn’t play outside, they played video games. There are leagues where pro video gamers exist and people are spectators of such. The point is football is an outdoor sport that requires physical interaction…..that isn’t as in vogue as it were when many of us were young and went to the park to play. Naturally the ratings will drop.

  4. “Dilly Dilly”…..is about to push me over the edge and quit watching. Its a trigger word that has potential for people to act out violently.

  5. Well, when the National FOOTBALL League is more about lawsuits, protests, suspensions, investigations, and contract negotiations than it is about actual football, you will have people like me turn away from the NFL and watch college football instead.

  6. Goodell is flat out lying to the audience…and himself.

    Viewership declines 2 years in a row is a big problem. It can be solved, somewhat, by mandating all players to stand for the anthem. If not- kick the ingrates out of the league.

  7. When you have Blake Bortles vs Tyrod Taylor in the playoffs, that’s why ratings are down…..Oh and because the NFL has turned into the millennial version of gladiatorial combats in the colosseum, where the audience of the show get distracted by entertainment and the rich get richer.

  8. That sounds like a word for word quote from the Captain of the Titanic — “I think the dominance of this ship against icebergs is very clear…”

    If only the NFL could find someone competent for $40MIL/year.

  9. i dont like to make this connection but buffalo jacksonville are not two big national draws. it shouldn’t matter, as its still the NFL playoffs, but it might.
    teams like jacksonville, buffalo, tennessee playing this years instead of the giants, packers, raiders, and pitt playing on wildcard weekend last year was probably a factor.

  10. Lets look at the exciting games:

    Jags – Bills – of interest to very small markets

    Titans – Cheifs – of interest to small markets

    Panthers – Saints – OK, this was a big one

    Flacons – Rams: LA is a big market and both teams are exciting to watch, so its good game

    2 good games, and 2 games few are interested in = 13% decline

  11. All these problems for the NFL are occurring under Roger Goodell’s watch, yet he still gets a huge new contract? You have to wonder sometimes how many NFL owners got to be so rich, when they make so many dubious decisions about their game.

  12. .
    The games featured some smaller market teams. Plus there were very few marquis names involved to lure the casual fan. The wasn’t a whole lot of glitz or pizzaz on either day.
    .

  13. Apparently no one sees the trend that millions of people are cutting the cord to cable and satellite tv. Half the guys in my neighborhood have switched to some sort of stick or vpn streaming service. TV viewership is declining in all segments except 65+. My son’s demographic is down 30%. Look outside the box.

  14. Only the Saints and Panthers game was worth watching, the others were horrible in both play and
    officiating. The AFC is just terrible It’s no wonder the Patriots have no problem reaching the AFC championship game every year they don’t have any competition sans MAYBE the Steelers.
    Neither would do as well Playing in the NFC.

  15. Of course the ratings are down – they are down for television as a whole as we “cut the cord” and find other entertainment outlets for our time. The question is – and I don’t know the answer – how does the ratings decline for the NFL compare to the ratings decline for other television programming?

  16. Hope the NFL burns to the ground with their scripted manipulated games. Enjoy watching the NHL NBA mlb and college football than this scripted garbage the NFL has become. According to the NFL, they are no longer a sport. They are entertainment. Just as phony as the wwe.

  17. Probably because the quality of the teams involved were an embarrassment. Besides the New Orleans game the rest are horrible football teams and/or small market teams as far as national draw.

  18. The product is declining. Playoff games that feature the “best” teams should feature better play and better entertainment. It just isn’t as compelling anymore.

  19. that game between bills and jags was terrible those two quarterbacks played like crap bortls has finally came to earth. and the titans r no better steelers will win and its another easy week for pats.

  20. More and more people are streaming as opposed to paying for cable. It’s an industry issue, not a football problem.

  21. I did not watch any of the games. I used to watch them all religiously. You just do not know if it will be a catch or not, or the players will not stand for the anthem, or whatever. That and the league is so greedy with trying to market the league in London to make more money. I just do not care any more. I follow it to see who wins but I for one am glad to have my Sundays back.

  22. Like last year 3 of 4 wild card games were terrible. Used to be at least 3 of the 4 would be great games but Goodell and his cronies have happily turned the bucket of gold into a bucket of fecal matter

  23. I haven’t seen anyone mention streaming media as the reason for the decline in ratings (I’m sure someone has, I just haven’t seen it). That to me is the top cause of the decline. I used to watch almost every nationally televised game because it was the best thing on. Now, if its not my team playing, I’m more likely to jump on Netflix or Amazon. Its not really been a product issue for me, but more the availability of other media.

  24. If Goodell has made anything clear it’s that he doesn’t give a crap about the NFL and has no problem alienating a significant portion of the NFL’s fan base by embracing leftist politics rather than publically remaining neutral. A significant portion of the NFL fan base is refusing to spend a dime on the NFL or waste a minute of their time watching the NFL.

  25. I’m a huge football fan, but even I don’t think I could sit through another Buffalo-Jacksonville kind of game.

  26. What else can he say? The next TV deal and the offers or lack of offers for the Panthers is going to be a financial reality check for owners, players, and NFLPA. America is getting tired of poorly paid, badly officated, over priced entertainment.

  27. TV viewership as a whole is down as much, if not more, than NFL viewership this season. The trend is obvious…fewer people are watching TV.

    So, who cares?

  28. Math is difficult for some people. Despite any NFL individual ratings decline, 37 of the 50 most watched programs means that traditional television viewing is in an overall decline.

    The only people saying that the NFL is in decline are the few leftover anthem zealots. Anyone with a brain knows that NFL remains the most powerful force in traditional television viewing.

  29. The NFL has many problems and as a fan since 1956 I have seen the whole progression.High ticket prices including vending and parking, Referees that throw flags after every other play, destroying game continuity and even game contest results,Anthem protests, grossly over payed athletes who think individual accolades are more important than team unity, a younger generation that is not interested in spending 3 hours watching a football game, many more choices available for entertainment dollars, CTE concerns and mothers not wanting their children playing football,commercials after every other play..enough is enough ! I watch 10 percent of the NFL games that I did just two years ago..It is going get much worse for the NFL…just wait and see…Sad but true !

  30. “the league is so greedy with trying to market the league in London”.

    Why should anyone care if the NFL plays games in London, Mexico City, or Timbuktu? 99% percent of fans are not attending in person, they’re watching on television. If you’re not going to the game it shouldn’t matter to you where it is played.

  31. It doesn’t matter if it’s 37 of the 50 most watched programs. If less people are watching advertisers will pay less for commercials, which will make the NFL worth less to the networks when the tv deal is up

  32. People are constantly saying that the referees are incompetent. Then those same people turn around and say that the referees are clever enough to execute some nefarious plan to fix game outcomes. How inconsistent can you get?

  33. Could it be because the NFL’s golden goose teams weren’t playing this week? Steelers and Patriots were on byes, and the Packers and Cowboys completely missed out…that will certainly lose the “casual” fans…just sayin’

  34. People consume their programming in different means then before. The fact of the matter is the NFL has been #1 or 2 in weekly TV ratings, and also in cable ratings – it doesn’t get better than that.

  35. @cincinnatikid13 says:

    Well, when the National FOOTBALL League is more about lawsuits, protests, suspensions, investigations, and contract negotiations than it is about actual football, you will have people like me turn away from the NFL and watch college football instead.
    ===================================================================================
    You turned away from NFL so much that you’re reading about it and commenting about turning away…sure you did, sure you did.

  36. We Americans have rapidly shrinking attention spans that can’t handle a 3+ hour event. Some will stick to the highlights.

    Cliff Notes/Highlight Generation.

  37. People are going to stick to the “streaming video” excuse? Really? Cutting the cable? Most people can receive a dozen or more HD stations for free with a cheap antenna. Most of the NFL games are broadcast on network TV. Streaming services have little to do with NFL ratings.

    What will happen is the advertisers will want a better deal. This will have a negative impact on the salary cap. That will have a negative impact on the players salary. So, dragging politics into the sport is actually going to hit the players and the league in the pocket book.

    Keep denying these facts until the money dries up.

  38. It’s no wonder the Patriots have no problem reaching the AFC championship game every year they don’t have any competition sans MAYBE the Steelers.
    Neither would do as well Playing in the NFC.

    +++++
    And yet the Patriots’ winning percentage with Brady vs. NFC teams is higher than against AFC.

  39. Alot this is because of multiple things. I don’t think people stop watching the games because of protests. That a very specious argument. The games are not fun to watch anymore. You have too many mediocre QBs coming out of college that are not playing in pro style offenses. So it makes for a round robin of QBs around the league. concussions, stoppage of play, HORRIBLE officiating is front and center right now. Bad GMs, coaches and front office people. Greedy owners moving teams at will and taking cities hostage (what the NFL did to st. Louis it will pay for one day). Over saturation of games. Get rid of the Thursday and Sunday night games. Or at lest do a better job in the second half of the season of flexing the more appealing games. Take care of your older players. The NFL is going through some really bad PR right now. All the while Goodell gets a whopping contract in the middle of this mess. This is the unraveling of the NFL right in front of our eyes and it all starts with greedy ass owners.

  40. We can debate the reasons why fewer people are watching TV in general, but of those who are still watching TV, NFL games were 37 of the top 50 programs viewed by television audiences. That’s pure dominance folks. Things seem more negative nowadays but that’s only because there are more media outlets and websites competing for an audience, and negativity sells. Whether it’s politics or sports, the big mouth guys who can stay on the radio and bash something for 3 hours a day, seem to make us feel good about something. For some reason, we relate to negativity, but we’re still in love with football.

  41. If the horrible officiating of games – from the obscene rule book trying to define a catch to the execution from the on field guys – doesn’t change, it won’t rule TV for long. The Refs are rock stars now, the players secondary. Each and every good play I see, I cringe waiting for the inevitable flag – usually precipitated by some diva WR moving their arms around demanding the thing be thrown to cover up their drop.

  42. The declining ratings are due to Goodell not manning up and putting the protesters in their places. He should’ve ruled with an iron fist on that subject by fining players who kneeled and give their money to a Police sponsored organization, but instead gave in to the whiny SJW players. The losses would be much less had he forced them to stand with steep penalties for not doing so.

  43. That’s probably why ESPN came out with the Patriots controversy to drum up keen interest on the NFL. Like Brady said everything about the Patriots is a big deal.

  44. The product on the field stinks. The rules no one knows anymore. Replay sucks because it’s broken down to 100th of a second and they can’t figure out a catch. Everything is slanted to the offense. Can’t hit anyone anymore. They don’t practice hard. There’s no quarterbacks on over half the league. Thursday football is garbage. Protests and politics has infected the league. Social media has caused a cancer. Etc etc

  45. When the baseball players went on strike in 1994, I never went back.

    With the anthem protests this year; the endless penalties and incompetent officiating; time consuming play reviews and over saturation, I am just about to where I was when I stopped watching baseball.

  46. People who cut cords, stream it, or stopped watching for whatever reason don’t meant ANYTHING to the RATINGS unless they have/had a Nielsen box. Nielsen figures the ratings. What the average person does or does not watch mean absolutely nothing. I don’t know why that antiquated system still rules when digital cable boxes could give an EXACT number of REAL viewers rather than a mere 5000 homes representing the ENTIRE U.S.

  47. Wildcard weekend was definitely a mixed bag. The Buffalo/Jags game was a flat-out dog. Titans/Chiefs turned out exciting but marred by horrific officiating.

    Saints/Panthers was great though.

  48. I didn’t watch the games because they were boring. I’ll watch next week’s games though… streaming online like most everyone else I know.

    Ratings have nothing to do with the protests. Forcing players to stand will have zero effect on anything.

  49. No disrespect to the teams playing, but I think matchups like bills-jags and titans- chiefs may have had something to do with the low ratings.

  50. Ratings go down EVERY YEAR because upcoming generations are cutting the TV cable.
    It doesn’t mean fewer viewers,
    it means more viewers are finding alternatives to viewing on TV

    ———————-

    People do not want context. People want sensationalism and confirmation bias.

    People are not watching less football in context. Pure numbers without context only perpetuates a narrative you wish it to. The NFL continues to dominate television. And if anything, the numbers with context show the NFL is as strong as it has ever been. Antiquated data collection with a changing society simply allows silly conclusions to be made. How many of you have sought out ways to stream sports which you know would not be calculated in a Nielsen rating? Ya, thought so.

  51. Now a new survey finds 33% of NFL fans have totally boycotted the league this year, according to a poll by SurveyMonkey and Ozy Media, shared first with Yahoo Finance

  52. The NFL is still the king sport in America. Less people watch sports live on TV, so it appears there are less watching but it’s still very popular. People still talk about the NFL non stop, fantasy football is huge, games sell out. But instead of watching it live on TV, or Cable people stream, or dvr, etc. People hate watching commercials and some people don’t have time sit down for three hours.

    This weekend it could be…because of lack of Good Matchups. All the teams are good and have entertainment value. Bills and Jags were doomed to be a boring game. Two good defenses and bad QB’s. People knew it wasn’t worth watching. Titans vs. Chiefs – looked like a boring game, a blow out by the chiefs…for those who didn’t watch…it was a GREAT game!

    Rams – Falcons – Great Matchup. Panthers Saints – Great matchup.

  53. eramming says:

    January 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

    The product on the field stinks. The rules no one knows anymore. Replay sucks because it’s broken down to 100th of a second and they can’t figure out a catch. Everything is slanted to the offense. Can’t hit anyone anymore. They don’t practice hard. There’s no quarterbacks on over half the league. Thursday football is garbage. Protests and politics has infected the league. Social media has caused a cancer. Etc etc

    ——————-

    I totally agree. People hate the politics involved. I have a friend who loves the NFl but refuses to watch while this garbage goes on. He watched the highlights online later. Replay is ruining it. They over analyze plays and find a reason to take it away. They should just review for 1 min, and go with a judgement call. And go over it for 10 min.

    Also the teams are not very food this year. How do you explain the AFC? 8 wins is enough to be a strong team and go into the playoffs? Or 9 wins. The Patriots have to play the Titans to get to the AFC Championship?

  54. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says:
    January 9, 2018 at 7:46 am
    I haven’t watched a second of football since the anthem protests and open contempt for the league’s fans began last year.

    ——————————

    Yet you still take time to read articles and comment on PROFOOTBALLtalk.com??? Lol. Suuuure……

  55. Weak slate of playoff teams this season.
    I had already stated a week ago that t.v. ratings would decline before a bunch of ego bruised Viking fans shouted me down for it.
    And I fully expect the decline to continue.

  56. The medium of Television has seen a dramatic decline in ratings for all programming. Trying to tie the NFL decline to anything else is simply trying to promote an agenda. The NFL even after all the complaints about protests, over saturation, complaints about rule changes, officiating, hate of the commissioner etc, is still far and away the most popular program on TV. Obviously the decline in ratings is a concern, but the answer isn’t telling players to stand; it’s keeping up with the changing habits of viewers. That’s why there has been a concerted effort to offer a streaming option.

  57. Ratings go down EVERY YEAR because upcoming generations are cutting the TV cable.
    It doesn’t mean fewer viewers,
    it means more viewers are finding alternatives to viewing on TV.
    ——————————–

    It seems clear that this is the answer. The majority of the people I know have cut the cord and the NFL – and the networks – need to jump on board and make online streaming as easy as possible. Not that it’s difficult now, but the whole thing can be frustrating at times, like when Thursday Night Football jumps to different networks here and there.

    The NFL, the networks, other sports leagues – need to figure out how to engage new fans and get the younger viewers involved and excited.

  58. balt88 says:
    January 9, 2018 at 1:23 pm
    Didn’t the NFL want a team in LA to increase TV ratings? How’d that plan go…
    —————————

    Maybe two teams isn’t enough…?

  59. Bring back the old kickoff rules. The game starts off lame, with a kick out of the endzone. If people arent excited for the start of games…. they dont turn on the game.

  60. Coincidentally, players disrespecting the American flag, League owners trying to expand outside the U.S., rules against playing defense & games decided by referee game flow interference were all up by a similar 13%.

    But there’s no relationship to the 2 statistics at all…

  61. Doesn’t surprise me that ratings are down. This is one of the lamest group of playoff teams in decades. There is not one dominant team in the bunch. No one that you’d say is a powerhouse or sure thing. Even the favorite Patriots have lots of warts. When they rank the best Super Bowl teams of all time, whoever wins it this year will surely be firmly entrenched at the bottom.

  62. “according to a poll by SurveyMonkey and Ozy Media”.

    Now there’s two obviously scientific polling services. Meet me in Arizona to observe my available beachfront property if you actually believe 33% of fans have totally boycotted the NFL.

  63. arclight1972 says:
    January 9, 2018 at 7:44 am
    Lets look at the exciting games:

    Jags – Bills – of interest to very small markets

    Titans – Cheifs – of interest to small markets

    Panthers – Saints – OK, this was a big one

    Flacons – Rams: LA is a big market and both teams are exciting to watch, so its good game

    2 good games, and 2 games few are interested in = 13% decline

    ——————-
    This is a good point and I will even add that LA, despite the market size, is still not all on board with their teams. Its gotten better because both teams have done an Admirable job of making a good spirited go of it. But still the market gain has not proceeded at rate the NFL was hoping for.

    And not only was it a small market but also not many were expecting anything exciting or even close between the Chiefs and Titans. Most went about their Saturday afternoon chores and only found out later what had happened.

  64. The reason is the product. 3/4 games were garbage. Titans-Chiefs was another Andy Reid meltdown and marred by the disaster of officiating that was Kirk Triplette. Falcons-Rams was predictable. A seasoned playoff team versus a first timer. Bills-Jags set offensive football back 25 years. You know it’s bad when the Jags radio announcers are basically proclaiming Bortles (their own QB) as awful. The Bills and Jags don’t have to apologize for getting in the playoffs but many non-playoff teams from the NFC would have wiped them clean. Saints-Panthers was entertaining but part of the entertainment was the result of an attempted epic brain fart by Sean Payton.

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