Where we really stand on the NFL player protests:
Bottom Line: Ahh yes, the NFL protests. They took a mix of different turns this week. Mostly of the we lock arms in unity against the US Code on the presentation of colors (still the same level of disrespect as kneeling btw). As is often the case the narrative in the media doesn't equal the actual reality of those of us on the ground. For example, by late week, headlines of "Americans split on NFL protests" had emerged. The thing is that's just false. What happened was that by the end of the week a couple of pollsters were commissioned to ask questions a bit differently about whether NFL players had a right to protest, etc. That's not a legitimate question. Do they have a right to? Absolutely, if the NFL and owners decide to thumb its nose at the US Code, its own code of conduct policy and most player contracts. That's not really the question. The question is if this will have an impact on the league going forward.
There were five nationally accredited polls conducted over the past week that asked a question about whether you approve of the players carrying out the protests on the field during the national anthem. Here were the results...
That averages out to be about 38% who think it's acceptable. The remaining 62% fall into some category of neutral to highly offended. What's still unclear is how many of these people are NFL fans and if this will impact the league going forward. This answer is absolutely yes by the way. It's really just a matter of how significantly so.
The 2016 NFL season experienced an 8% ratings decline. Through the first four weeks of the NFL season the decline is averaging an additional 8% decline. In other words, one in every five NFL fans in 2015 isn't consuming the NFL the way they were. What kind of an impact would there be in your business with a 20% decline in customers over two years? Pretty big deal, right? But the NFL and the teams haven't felt it yet because of the long term guaranteed deals they have in place. The only impact they feel is on the ticket sales, concessions, merchandise side of the business which accounts for less than a quarter of total revenue. Those are feeling it are ticket resellers.
Many purchase their tickets before the season begins. With the protests as a back drop there don't appear to be as many people looking to pick up those seats from owners looking to resell. Most, like StubHub, haven't presented weekly numbers but for those who did from last week it wasn't pretty. TickPick saw a near 18% decline last week and Ticket City reported a 31% decline last week. Somewhat notably, week three ticket sales were down 5% but attendance was down 8%. That means that 3% of people holding tickets, which average $172 per ticket, weren't used. That's another piece of the story that's unfolding. More to come.