AdWeek/Harris Poll shows 19 percent less likely to watch NFL if lockout delays season

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In a new AdWeek/Harris Poll of 2,124 Americans (why do these things never have a round number?), a whopping 19 percent said that they will be less likely to watch NFL games, if the lockout delays the start of the 2011 season.  More than half of the 19 percent said they would be “much less likely” to watch.

Here’s the specific question that was posed to the 2,124, from April 25 through April 27:  “There is some talk that the upcoming NFL season may be delayed because the current labor lockout will continue. If this happens, how much more or less likely, if at all, will you be to watch football when the season begins?”

Four percent said they will be more likely to watch after a lockout that delays the season, and 10 percent said that they are not sure.  The good news for the NFL is that 67 percent said a delayed start of the season will have no impact on their viewing habits.  And we’ve got a feeling that the NFL will shrug at the 19 percent as simply the manifestation of fan frustration that would dissipate instantly once the lockout ends.  (We’re not sure we agree with that approach, if that’s the approach the NFL takes.)

Here’s another factor that may have impacted the numbers.  The window in which the poll was taken — April 25-27 — encompassed three of the worst P.R. days for the NFL during the lockout.  The first day ended with Judge Nelson’s ruling lifting the lockout, and the third day ended with Judge Nelson essentially insisting that the ruling lifting the lockout be honored immediately.  In the interim, the NFL descended into chaos, confusion, and arguable defiance of Judge Nelson’s wishes.

The folks who put the poll together didn’t point out the dynamics of the selected polling period, opting instead to insert an editorial comment that possibly is aimed at attracting more media and fan attention to a poll that doesn’t directly point to this conclusion:  “Although professional football has reigned as America’s favorite sport for many years, between the current labor lockout and increased understanding of the damaging effects of head injuries, the sport may have a rough road ahead. Professional football is a business, as the fierce labor lockout makes abundantly clear, yet if these financial discussions turn off the fans, NFL executives may need to reevaluate their priorities. While players and coaches can be replaced (some more easily than others), the one thing professional football cannot survive without, are the millions of Americans who watch the games, play the related fantasy sports, buy team gear, snacks, beverages and countless other products and services related to the industry. Could you imagine a world with no Super Bowl ads?”

For starters, the poll posed no question about the influence of head injuries on viewing habits.  Likewise, the poll placed no time limit on the extent of any fan boycott of the NFL.  The 19 percent could ignore the NFL for a month, a week, a year, a decade, or more; we simply don’t know the answer to that question because that question wasn’t asked.

In the end, it simply seems odd that an organization that aspires to harvest specific facts via a polling process would, when presenting the results, speculate so wildly on the long-term health of the sport.  That said, there are plenty of reasons for the NFL to be more concerned about the long-term health of the sport and less concerned about the concept of winning a favorable labor deal from the players.

28 responses to “AdWeek/Harris Poll shows 19 percent less likely to watch NFL if lockout delays season

  1. As I have said, This is what the Unions will get you, They destroy everything they touch. Look at Greece this morning. This is why The Commie Unions have lost 20% in the past 5 years. People are finally catching on. Fact Football Union members ….80% are broke when they retire.

  2. The owners plan is to have the fans throw fits that regular season games are getting missed, it’s all a ploy by them. The owners don’t play the games, so it’s not them who are missing it will be their cry.

    The owners planned this on the schedule & planned to go in several weeks into the season without games being played. Please note weeks 2 / 4 with no NFL divisional games as a case in point.

    The plan is to scrap every team’s bye-week & make up the first game by adding it at the end, for a shortened season. The networks still pay the same amount for broadcasting & are obligated to pay anyways, so that doesn’t effect the bottom line. Brilliant play gentlement, which is also obvious.

  3. Keeping posting stupid stuff like this and the National Foootball League Players Reserve lawsuit, and a high percentage will be less likely to embrace this site. Give us an update on the 8th Circuit Court, if we can expect something this week.

  4. Football could go away for a whole season in an effort to save the integrity of the game and people would be there when it started again. I am going to assume the 19% here are the casual fans and will casually come back at their own pace anyways.

  5. I’m one that won’t be back. I love NFL football, but I also loved MLB baseball. I haven’t watched a MLB game since the strike in the 80’s. It’ll be the same if the NFL strikes – I’ll be gone, and spend my sports time watching something else. NASCAR? Synchronized swimming? Chess?

  6. “arguable defiance of Judge Nelson’s wishes”?

    Man, I hope the NFLPA* is paying you well for your shilling. You’re pathetically obvious.

    Can’t wait to see how long it takes you to delete my critical post.

  7. Something seriously wrong with the economic system iwhen owners of TV networks don’t blink an eye as they pay billions of dollars for nothing, all the while millions of people are living in poverty in the same country.

  8. I can understand both sides of this coin. However, I will be eagerly waiting for the season even if it is delayed. It will suck and I will be pissed, but I will still be waiting. Let’s just hope it does not come to that. If it does, we have tools like Chester Pitts to thank. Lifetime healthcare? Really? Do understand how the rest of the world lives? Clearly not.

  9. Mike, you wrote “there are plenty of reasons for the NFL to be more concerned about the long-term health of the sport and less concerned about the concept of winning a favorable labor deal from the players.”

    Believe the league IS more concerned about the long term health. There is just no way the NFL (as we know it) could exist without the draft, a strong cap, rookie contract relief and some sort of FA restrictions.

    Your two points are very much interrelated, not separate entities.

    Your so obvious bias is showing, AGAIN. Or should I say, still.

  10. It all boils down to one thing anyway….MONEY. Does anyone really think that players 0r owners care about the long term health of the sport? Have they ever given such an indication? GODell only says it because it’s the company line, and the players only say it because it could affect their future health benefits.. They both care about lining their pockets NOW, not 40 years from now…

  11. I’ll never enjoy baseball, but in A PAINTED HOUSE, John Grisham taught me why somebody would.

    If someone offered me millions or even thousands to play football, I’d sign that contract, oh yes I would. But if you want to see some guys playing football for love of the game, read PLAYING FOR PIZZA by (you guessed it) John Grisham.

    Somebody send some copies to the owners and players. Audio books for those who graduated but are still illiterate.

  12. Well, I just joined a flag football league, and our games are on Sunday afternoons.

    Sorry NFL, but I need my football on Sundays.

  13. We would have been 1 minicamp away from the deadzone of the football season anyway. Without the lockout we really wouldn’t have that much to talk about anyway.

    When actual training camp plans begin to be interrupted, people will find other things to do. I don’t know if the NFL realizes how important that family time visiting camp is for the long term future of the game. There are many fans that do not go to games but they do watch every Sunday but going to camp is a family tradition for them.

    When those preseason games do not happen, the true fanatics will be angry and their response will be looking for something else to provide that football rush.

    When there is no start of the season, the NFL will no longer hear shouts of anger or threats of turning away. They will hear the sound that still haunts baseball owners and that is the sound silence.

  14. I removed my 4 T.V’s this past weekend. I use to have 4 19 inch screens around my big screen, for the ticket. 5 games at once was great. Sorry NFL not anymore, no sunday ticket for me, I havent spent a cent on the NFL since this began. I will re-evaluate in January 2012 while I watch the superbowl, if there is one, however I will not spend a cent until possibly 2012.

  15. It’s the same 19 percent that “SWEARS OFF FACEBOOK!!!!” every time they redesign, but never actually leave.

  16. And there you have it, NFL. Is that what you want? Reduced revenue that ultimately leads to reduced viewership and a snowballing of even more reduced revenue.

    What killed the Golden Goose?


    Splash some water on your faces and get this deal done.


  17. This whole thing is about money, NOT LOVE FOR THE GAME….NOT TO MAINTAIN THE INTEGRITY OF THE GAME…as Goddell put it that’s CRAP. And to the player’s I can see where they would expect Health Care every major corporation in this country provides Health Care for their employees,but Dude you make Millions of dollars a year get some…Also for the owners stop being so freaking GREEDY!!! You make Billions of dollars a year on just player gear DAM how much money do you need????? Just go into a room lock the door nobody leaves till it’s done that’s what I say

  18. I’m less likely to watch the NFL if games are missed. And guess what? The ‘game of football’ will be fine. Every Saturday, there will be hundreds of football games across the country. There will be football on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night. And thousands of high school kids will still play under the Friday night lights. I’ll enjoy football all the same.

    Maybe I’m ambivalent toward the NFL because I’m a Bengals fan and last time I checked, Mike Brown was still the owner.

  19. People will not come back and watch? Come on, the NFL is addictive. I couldn’t stay away, and I don’t know anybody who can. People always talk tough, but when it comes to it what are you going to do? Watch MLB? Give me a break. Guys love the NFL, it is our “soap opera”, or “desperate housewifes”, we will always come back. I just can’t help but laugh when somebody says they will switch to MLB……… Anybody who can watch 9 innings of a 1-0 game and pass on any type of NFL……….. that is the person who should be watching a soap opera!!

  20. This issue would be solved already if there were a more “normal” way for players to be compensated. If they prorated the “game checks” throught the entire year, then the players would be less likely to wait until the season looms before actually trying to negotiate. The owners would be less likely to lock them out since they would be paying them anyway for work already done. Start the year long pay system in september rather than the “new league year” otherwise the lockout would still be a viable option. Get rid of the stupid stuff like “workout bonuses” etc. Roster bonuses may still have some value but some of this crap needs to go.

  21. The more important question is: how many fans bought or renewed their season tickets for 2011?

    Of course everyone on here will watch, it’s May and we read this sh@t everyday (don’t even try to say otherwise). I think almost every NFL fan will watch…that 19% will evaporate quicker than money in a crackhead’s pocket.

    If the lockout doesn’t end by July 1, then I will keep my money. It’s just business; why pay to see a bad product when I can watch for free at home? If I was a fan of a good team I would feel differently, but if your team has a new coach, new system, and new QB – keep your money.

  22. “I use to have 4 19 inch screens around my big screen, for the ticket. 5 games at once was great. Sorry NFL not anymore…”

    That’s just sad. The NFL knows you don’t mean it. No one who is eat up with it so bad that you have to have 5 TVs to watch 5 games at once is ever going to go away. They know it. We all know it. You just don’t seem to know it yet.

  23. Remember when the baseball and hockey leagues had strikes? Their fan bases and profits were wrecked. We [consumers, viewers, ticket/jersey, etc.-purchasers] are the bosses, and if the owners don’t get that, they will end learning the hard way.

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