The NFL is in a world of hurt.
The league’s TV ratings are cratering and fans are skipping the games.
But now the truth about the depth of the problems is beginning to spread, and the NFL is terrified.
The anti-American protests have repelled large swaths of fans, and the numbers reflect that, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
With the NFL’s Week 11 action wrapping up, it quickly became clear that football fans had found other things to do as thousands of empty seats could be seen in stadiums from coast to coast.
With TV ratings off nearly 20 percent over all and the networks already known to have lost up to $500 million in ad revenue, it is becoming clear that last year’s 12 percent decline wasn’t because of the raucous political season, a claim that served as the excuse for the 2016 season’s ratings loss.
The ratings slide is reflected in the skimpy attendance at the stadiums, too, with Week 11 photos showing that there are still empty seats galore.
To cite just a few:
As the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Denver Broncos, it appears that Denver fans stayed home from Mile High Stadium. Lots of unsold seats available:
Whole lot of empty seats for #Broncos and #Bengals @AP_NFL
Lot of empty seats at Mile High.
The NFL seems to understand that it has a problem, but Commissioner Roger Goodell is unwilling or incapable of doing anything about it.
From the New York Business Journal:
The controversy swirling around players kneeling during the national anthem is taking a toll on business, the NFL conceded, as several major sponsors have contacted the league to express their dissatisfaction with declining TV ratings and political turmoil.
Papa John’s, long connected to the league through its sponsorship since 2010 and an endorsement deal with Peyton Manning, told the league that in-game pizza sales had fallen since President Donald Trump criticized protesting players Sept. 22, leading into the season’s third weekend, sources said.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart confirmed that the pizza brand had made such concerns known, and said it was not alone among top sponsors in talking to the league about such worries. Papa John’s head of partnerships, Linda Nuss, directed questions to a spokesperson, who did not reply for comment.
Questioned whether owners at their fall meeting last week had raised the issue of hits on club business, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank replied, “Certainly, feelings have been expressed and felt.”
Time is running out for the NFL. Once customers leave, it’s terribly difficult to get them back.