NFL Ratings Down Across The Board Through Two Weeks
Last week’s Sunday Night Football match drew in its lowest ratings in seven years, and a game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings scored a 13.7/22 in Nielsen’s metered market ratings — down 18 percent from last year’s ratings, according to Deadline.com
Through two weeks of play, the NFL’s ratings are down by a fairly sizable percentage — with Monday Night Football, historically the league’s signature television franchise, absorbing a particularly hard hit.
According to data compiled by Sports Business Daily, Monday Night Football pulled in 12.1 million viewers for its Week 2 match-up featuring the Eagles and the Bears — the lowest Week 2 Monday Night Football audience in over five years. And through three games this season (Monday Night Football aired a doubleheader in Week 1), the franchise’s ratings are down 12%.
ESPN is not the only network feeling the pain of the NFL ratings decline. All four of the league’s television partners have seen smaller audiences for their respective packages. Fox, which broadcasts NFC games on Sunday afternoons, has had its numbers hold relatively steady, down 2%. But NBC, which airs Sunday Night Football, has experienced a 12% decline from last year. And CBS, which has the rights to Sunday afternoon AFC games, has had a 5% drop. (The Thursday night game they televised between the Bills and the Jets was down 27% from the match-up televised in the same slot a year ago.)
Some are speculating that the National Anthem protests — which began with 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, and have spread throughout the league — have helped drive the ratings down this season. A survey conducted by E-Poll Marketing Research and shared by ESPN concluded that Kaepernick is the most disliked player in the NFL, with 36 percent of NFL fans saying they dislike him “a lot.” Of course, Kaepernick had the top-selling jersey in the league earlier in the season, so it’s clear he is popular with a large portion of NFL fans as well. But if a significant portion of the 36 percent of fans that dislike him (and presumably, others who are protesting) begin to tune out, that could spell trouble for the league.