The 2017 NFL season was marred by vile anti-American protests.
The league also endured more questions about concussions and awful officiating.
Now the NFL has a new problem on its hands, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
The ratings for the 2017 season fell off dramatically from last year. The dip in viewership in 2016 was written off as interest in the presidential election.
The excuse is now out the window.
Much like 2016, NFL television viewership numbers went down again in 2017. Except this time, the viewership numbers dropped by a larger percentage than the previous year.
According to USA Today Sports, the average television audience size amongst the NFL’s broadcast partners — CBS, NBC, ESPN, NFL Network, and Fox — fell by 10 percent in 2017. That decline, follows an 8 percent drop from 2016.
As USA Today explains, “NFL broadcasts had an average minute audience of 14.9 million compared to 16.5 million in 2016. CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN had a smaller audience than 2016.
“ESPN, which included its streaming audience, had the lowest drop among the four networks at a 7.7% decline. Fox had a 9.1% drop, NBC dipped 10.4% and CBS fell 11.2% compared to 2016.”
While the consistent year-to-year drop in television numbers supports the argument that the NFL suffers from certain, systemic issues; such as oversaturation, too many penalties, concussion backlash, and no one knowing what constitutes a catch.
The fact that viewership fell by an even larger amount in 2017, a year where politics and anthem protests were far more pervasive than in 2016, suggests that the anthem demonstrations are making an already serious problem, much worse.
The problem is serious enough to force commissioner Roger Goodell to do damage control.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league despite a drop in television ratings by saying that NFL games accounted for 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows in 2017.
“We always want ratings to go up, but we’re 37 of the top 50 shows, which is higher than ever,” Goodell told a small group of reporters shortly before the Jacksonville Jaguars’ home playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. “We’re likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox — excuse me on all of television, the Fox Sunday afternoon game. Sunday night, prime time is for the seventh year in a row the No. 1 show. Thursday night football is No. 2.
“I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear.”
According to numbers registered by Nielsen, NFL television ratings fell 9.7 percent during the 2017 regular season. That followed the 2016 season in which ratings fell 8 percent. Per the Nielsen numbers, a typical game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people in 2017 than in 2016.
The NFL had a good week of wildcard action, but even that was beset by horrendous calls and rule confusion from the officials, inconsistent use of replay, and some big hits that brought into question the dubious concussion protocols.
The NFL has a lot of questions to answer, because the league is currently trending in the wrong direction.