Major networks and their advertisers are stunned by the massive beat down the NFL has taken in ratings this season — something that isn’t really all that much of a shock to those who’ve been keeping up with the Colin Kaepernick shenanigans.The San Francisco 49ers quarterback decided at the beginning of the season to protest inequality in America by first sitting, then kneeling, during the National Anthem.
His actions have spread far and wide across the world of professional sports, as overpaid athletes have jumped on the social activism bandwagon — likely as a means of looking cool and relevant — following Kaepernick’s example.
However, these actions have not been well received by football fans — a fact that is no doubt playing a role in the decline of this season’s National Football League ratings.
The Wall Street Journal reports: Once considered immune to the audience erosion plaguing the television industry, ratings for the National Football League have tumbled through the first four weeks of the season.TV networks have bet heavily on sports in general, and the NFL in particular, because of the must-see value of their content. While more viewers are watching commercial-free streaming services like Netflix or recording shows on DVRs and skipping the ads, sports is still primarily watched live, making it valuable to advertisers.
“We’re scratching our heads,” said Andy Donchin, chief domestic investment officer at Amplifi US, an ad-buying unit of Dentsu Aegis Network, whose clients include General Motors Co. “We cannot pinpoint any specific reason why the numbers are down. It is probably being caused by a confluence of events.”
The reason most often cited is the election. The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sept. 26 drew 84 million viewers, dramatically cutting into ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” While this Sunday’s New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers matchup on NBC will probably fare better, ratings will likely still take a hit in head-to-head competition with the second presidential debate.Rating declines for Sunday afternoon aren’t nearly as steep as the prime-time telecasts, but both Fox and CBS are down, while cable news ratings are up.
While it’s likely the election is playing some sort of role in the ratings decline, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a large portion of the viewing audience are centrist Americans who are sick of all the race politics being perpetrated by ungrateful celebrities and athletes. Many of these folks have been vocal on this front and have openly declared boycotts on the NFL in light of its apparent, if not explicit, support for such actions.There’s nothing wrong with protesting or standing up for a cause you believe in; however, others also have the right to express their views too — and some may choose to do so by changing the channel or tuning out altogether.
One has to wonder at what point the NFL will finally catch on to what’s happening and start asking players to stand for the National Anthem when they are on the field.
[This article was written by Michael Cantrell]