NFL Ratings Fumble On Veterans Weekend

It is pretty sad that NFL ratings are viewed favorably if they are up from previous season lows.

NFL ratings continued to bounce like a fumbled football this past weekend as Americans continue to tune out what had been the most most popular sport on television.

Early ratings numbers suggest a bump up for Sunday Night Football on NBC, a big drop on ESPN's Monday Night Football and mediocre results elsewhere. While ratings have been down overall this season, partly due to protesting players kneeling during the national anthem, there was an attempt to co-ordinate a boycott of NFL games for Veteran's Day Weekend.

The first game of the week on Thursday came in as a winner, comparatively speaking, writes Dominic Patten at Patten cites figures showing the TNF game up 1% over the same week last year, but the best news is last Thursday's game "was up 12% from the TNF season low of the Baltimore Ravens 40-0 shutout over the Miami Dolphins on October 26."

It is pretty sad that NFL ratings are viewed favorably if they are up from previous season lows but such is the state of the game and viewership today.

The Sunday night game was up 20% over the season low the week before but Patten points up ratings are down drastically from 2016:

Last night’s game was down 20% in MM numbers from the November 13, 2016 face-off between the Patriots and the Seahawks. To focus the contrast even more, that near season high game saw the latter win 31-24 and SNF face off against a winning Donald Trump’s first post-election sitdown on 60 Minutes.  

And now with the Monday Night Football numbers in, things still aren't looking good with Miami players once again taking a knee during the anthem and effectively taking the ratings down with them:

All of which saw the Week 10 MNF snag a 6.2 in metered market results last night. While likely to be the winner on both broadcast and cable, that is a decline of 18% from last week’s Monday Night Football. Perhaps more painful for the Disney-owned cabler and the league is that last night’s game was basically steady in MM numbers with the MNF season low of October 17 when the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts.  

Football remains highly popular in America and is still by any standard a ratings winner, but its supremacy is being chipped away by everything from people cutting the cord on their cable package to fans turning away in disgust over the anthem protests. The league is trying to find a solution to keep cord-cutters watching football, like allowing Amazon Prime members to stream games, but so far has no plan to deal with the anthem protests.

There were no protests during the Sunday night game and instead both teams stood while a tribute was given to veterans. That game was a winner with viewers -- perhaps there is a message there for the league.