Commissioner Roger Goodell has a huge problem on his hands.
The anti-American protests have taken a bite out of his business with viewership on the decline.
But the latest numbers paint an even scarier picture for the league.
The bad news for the NFL is ratings and stadium attendance is down, but the worse news is the trend is not reversing.
Despite a slate of exciting playoff games, including one of the most miraculous finishes in sports, playoff viewership is down over 20 million from last season.
The NFL has 23 million fewer viewers for this year’s playoff action, a new report says.
With the first round of this year’s NFL playoffs in the rear-view mirror, Outkick the Coverage’s Clay Travis took a look at the TV ratings and found that every game was down by millions of viewers and ratings fell to a ten-year low.
Each of this year’s playoff games has lost over a million plus viewers, Travis said, with the biggest loser being the Saint-Vikings game which lost an incredible 13 million.
“Adding all these numbers up 120.8 million viewers watched the NFL divisional round playoffs in 2018 vs. 144.1 million who watched in 2017, a decline of 23.3 million total viewers,” Travis wrote.
Overall viewership declined over 16 percent, according to this reading of the numbers. It amounts to a ten-year low, Travis said.
Also, these numbers reflect an even worse decline on average than the regular season which itself lost about ten percent of viewers over the 2016 season.
Numbers differ from source to source, of course. In other readings of the ratings, the first round of playoffs declined 13 percent over last year. But with whatever analysis you read, none show good news.
The quality of the games does not seem to have been a factor for the low playoffs ratings as most of the games were excellent. But it seems that the NFL has simply lost a large number of fans who checked out during the regular season and who see no reason to pick their football habit up again in the postseason.
In another analysis of fan participation rates, it appears that NFL viewership has collapsed with older white viewers. Indeed, in the analysis released by Nielsen Data Media Research, it was revealed that viewership among white people is down in every single demographic. But, that isn’t all. Viewership was also down among all adults of every ethnicity and gender. In fact, Nielsen found no growth in any demo and all are down between eight and 20 percent.
With the data finding that older white viewers led the way in abandoning the NFL between 2015 and 2018, it should be noted that this precipitous decline occurred during the exact timeline of the player protests against the country during the playing of the national anthem. So, apparently, the decline is no accident. It leads to the easy conclusion that the decline is an obvious reaction to the protests.
The NFL was able to use the engrossing 2016 election as an excuse for the decline in league interest, but now it seems clear the unpatriotic anthem protests are likely the driving force behind the exodus of fans.
The Baltimore Ravens acknowledged as much by issuing an apology to their season-ticket holders.
This is a broader point the league needs to recognize before the brand is too far beyond repair.