NFL braces for lower draft ratings

NFL Draft Experience Media Preview
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In the TV business, the performance of a given show in one year is immediately compared to its performance the prior year. Last year, that was a great comparison for the league to make. This year, it’s not.

As explained by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, NFL executives are privately trying to manage expectations for reduced TV viewership of the 2021 draft. The reason is simple. Last year, the NFL enjoyed record viewership because, fewer than two months into the pandemic, nothing else was happening in the sports world, or pretty much anywhere else. (And, of course, last year’s victory lap regarding the ratings didn’t point that out.)

Last year, the NFL had 15.6 million average viewers in the first round of the draft. In 2019, the round one averages 11.1 million. Ourand notes that this year’s opening-night number could be even lower than 2019, because of the reduction in the number of homes that even use televisions. Major TV events of the past have seen big drops this year.

Ourand predicts that, the longer Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields stays on the board, the higher the ratings will be. That’s what happened when, for example, Johnny Manziel slid to No. 24 in 2014.

46 responses to “NFL braces for lower draft ratings

  1. Let’s be honest. There are several reasons why ratings have dropped in the last year. Every pro sport is experiencing rapid declines in interest…

  2. Also, don’t forget fewer people are watching sports because it’s getting too woke. Just ask the NBA and MLB.

  3. Do you know why television viewership of other sporting events this year is down? It’s because of the fact too many athletes are bringing their political views into the workplace. Wanna ban the National Anthem? Fine you’ve just alienated a large portion of your fan base. Wanna kneel during the Anthem? Fine you’ve just alienated a portion of your fan base. People tune into sports to get away from all of the days hardships, and to be entertained, and I think it’s time these athletes start realizing that before it’s too late

  4. Sports are meant to be an outlet, not one of which expresses their political or social views. Expect no change, until viewership truly begins to hit their wallets.

  5. I’m sure we will hear about all the different reasons/excuses, but we all the truth is the politics! I, for one, don’t do boycotts, I do what, and watch what, i want- so ill be watching.

  6. Recent polls have shown that 30% of respondents said they stopped watching sports because of politics and social justice nonsense.

    Football is different from MLB and the NBA though. People already miss the NFL, I’d bet that their ratings will mirror last years.

  7. Come on. It’s going to be raining and temperatures in the 50’s here in Cleveland. What’s not to LOVE?

  8. Lower Ratings? Don’t people know that Goodell’s chair from the 2020 draft will be featured tonight? That means there should be higher ratings.

  9. Is this an indirect excuse of the ALL TIME LOWEST ratings of the oscars? Cmon – we all know why it was the lowest rating ever, and we know why the NBA ratings are at an all time low. We know what the majority wants, the media can’t accept it

  10. I always watch the first round. Fun stories with the young kids realizing their dreams!

  11. Haven’t watched the draft in many years watching paint dry or grass grow is more exciting.

    About twice a night I’ll look at the draft trackers online to see who the Pats took and who went in the first round, takes at most 5 minutes at a time and far more productive than watching the boredom on TV

  12. “Also, don’t forget fewer people are watching sports because it’s getting too woke. Just ask the NBA and MLB.”

    Don’t know about the NBA but MLB ratings are through the roof this year

  13. I think there are a lot of factors but one thing not many people talk about is this format where the first night is just the first round. This is when I stopped watching it… before this I always hosted buddies over at my house so we could watch it..

    It’s too drawn out, they have milked it too much.

  14. Kind of like folks wondering why no one watched the Oscars! lol. We all know why but we’ll keep pretending it’s because no one has tv’s all of a sudden. LMAO!!!!

  15. Come on. It’s going to be raining and temperatures in the 50’s here in Cleveland. What’s not to LOVE?

    ——————————

    My condolences for you living in Cleveland.

  16. Once the game is on there’s no politics or “wokeness” that excuse is stupid. What athletes do before and after the game shouldn’t be relevant to you if you’re interested in just watching the game. I just watch the damn game and enjoy it.

  17. The draft has gotten more and more boring these past few years. Ever since teams were instructed to take the full amount of time to pick there has been too much space between picks to keep it interesting

  18. I would say the biggest reason, from political, the drop in the NBA and MLB is the fact you can’t watch regional games anymore on a streaming service. I am dropping YouTube TV on Monday since I can’t watch my MLB team and only kept it to watch the Masters and I am paid through May 3 so the draft is a bonus

  19. Are the league’s and media really that ignorant…. or are they only giving us half the story and hope we don’t know better…

  20. Last year’s draft was a better television product. That seems counter-intuitive but the NFL’s insistence on making the draft a spectacle is what makes it feel anti-climactic. Announce the pick, give a little analysis, show some video highlights and move on. I don’t need to watch people walk to the stage and hand a card to the commissioner like it’s the nuclear codes.

  21. It is amusing how some people are so offended by the work for social justice. These people don’t realize that their support for prejudice and bigotry places them on the wrong side of history. The great majority of Americans support equal rights for everyone.

  22. Every time there is a ratings article the usual suspects come forward with the false narrative that social justice activism is the cause. These people’s lack of awareness of the evolving forms of television viewing is simply astounding. In addition, their failure to acknowledge the fracturing of the overall television audience for all programming gives the lie to their “go woke go broke” nonsense.

  23. Ratings are down on live events because there is a plethora of streaming services to binge whatever you want, whenever you want, for as long as you want.

    When there was ONLY broadcast television (mostly live) and less programming to choose from, households all tuned into the same things. Times, technology and demographics have changed. Now people can watch things after they have been broadcast live and get the highlights online – no need to wait through a whole program whether it be The Oscars or The NFL Draft.

    But yeah, ratings are down because of politics…..

  24. We’re comparing this to the Oscars now? Maybe no one watched the Oscars because no one’s been to a movie in over a year!

  25. The political aspect does play into my decreasing interest some, but mostly the lack of sports last year made me realize that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I did. I was fine without it, which kind of surprised me. It hasn’t seemed the same since it returned. Not sure if it’s changed, I have, or both, but the age of innocence is over.

  26. Satan says: “Also, don’t forget fewer people are watching sports because it’s getting too woke. Just ask the NBA and MLB.”
    ——————

    Right. Which explains why NASCAR is down 63% from it’s peak viewership in 2006.

  27. Should’ve left the draft on the weekends where it belongs instead of dragging it out. I used to plan everything around the weekend when they held all 7 rounds in two days, it was like a holy weekend. But now the NFL is dragging everything out just like the commercials when they play night games, it’s horrible. Go back to having the NFL Draft on the weekends.

  28. The real issue for lower ratings is access. You can’t watch the draft unless you are subscribed to an expensive cable or streaming package (or those that find illegal streams which won’t count towards viewership).

    What does the NFL/NBA/MLB expect? I can’t watch my favorite football team live because they aren’t local (without spending thousands a year on a dish) and even with the MLB package I can’t watch my favorite baseball team live because of blackouts (they are local).

    Here’s the thing the executives are missing, I became a sports fan after watching baseball and football live for YEARS. Sports are a part of my life, but my kids can pretty much care less because they have virtually no TV access to watch sports.

    Ratings will continue to drop. It has little to do with politics and far more to do with the cost they expect fans to burden to watch.

  29. 15 minutes of action stretched into a three hour football game is fine. You might even call it compelling TV.

    15 minutes of action stretched over three DAYS of TV? Think I’ll go check out the room I just painted instead.

  30. gibson45 says:
    April 29, 2021 at 12:10 pm
    It is amusing how some people are so offended by the work for social justice. These people don’t realize that their support for prejudice and bigotry places them on the wrong side of history.

    —–

    Not wanting to constantly be bombarded with Woke PC narratives is hardly the same thing as “supporting prejudice and bigotry”. Nice try thought. Your strawman is burning down in flames….

  31. Leave it to Florio to not see the real reason for the decline. Here’s a hint….we want politics and agenda out of our escapist entertainment. The NFL is learning that as are many other sports leagues. 4 of my core group of friends have stopped watching football altogether. If that’s true for a lot of people thats a sharp decline.

  32. A lot of people seem to be very sure about why sports on TV ratings are down. None of them have offered any data indicating they’re correct.

  33. nhpats2011 says:

    “It is amusing how some people are so offended by the work for social justice. These people don’t realize that their support for prejudice and bigotry places them on the wrong side of history.

    —–

    Not wanting to constantly be bombarded with Woke PC narratives is hardly the same thing as “supporting prejudice and bigotry”. Nice try thought. Your strawman is burning down in flames….
    _________

    So you’re a zealous supporter of equal rights, you just don’t want anyone talking about the subject.

  34. “4 of my core group of friends have stopped watching football altogether.”

    That would be pertinent information, if you actually had any friends.

  35. Come on. It’s going to be raining and temperatures in the 50’s here in Cleveland. What’s not to LOVE?

    Football Weather for sure .Go Browns!

  36. tuatuatua13 says:
    April 29, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Here’s the thing the executives are missing, I became a sports fan after watching baseball and football live for YEARS. Sports are a part of my life, but my kids can pretty much care less because they have virtually no TV access to watch sports.

    Ratings will continue to drop. It has little to do with politics and far more to do with the cost they expect fans to burden to watch.

    =========

    While I think politics is involved for some, I think you’re hitting on something pretty fundamental. In chasing every possible dollar, pro sports are chasing themselves right out of cultural relevance. When I was younger, seemingly everyone knew what was happening in sports and there was a sense that everyone’s eyes were on the big games. Now, barely anyone seems to care except the fanatics and habitual followers.

    Technology has played a role in creating more distractions, but the league itself has made the game harder to watch, in multiple senses. People don’t want to jump through hoops and pay several different services just for the option of seeing games. And then getting constant commercial interruption.

    NFL games used to be communal, universal activities. Now they’re not. People are losing interest.

  37. One thing the NFL really needs to be careful about is how they promote gambling (and ‘fantasy football’), we’ve seen it over here with our sports (gambling is a lot less regulated here) but when all kids see is adult caring about their bets and not the game itself, they don’t get into the sport as much add that to the increasing costs and you start to see interest drop n the next generation of fans year after year.

  38. 3rd most watched. Looks like there’s a lot of loud mouths out there that don’t live up to their threats.

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