Inside the NFL’s ratings - 3 weeks in
Bottom Line: Tonight, we’ll start week four of the NFL season. If the first three weeks are any indication they’ll be fewer people watching it compared to a year ago. Over the past couple of years NFL ratings had been at the forefront of political conversations as many Americans tuned out as Colin Kaepernick and the merry band of ignorant ingrates were allowed to politically protest the national anthem in uniform, on the field. Coming into the 2018 NFL season, TV ratings for the average nationally televised game had declined 20%. The NFL arguably continued to mismanage the situation in the off-season as they set a new policy only to back down once some protesting players promised they’d defy it. Then, independent of the NFL, Nike announced and launched their new campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, during the NFL opener.
At the end of the NFL season last year I mentioned that if the NFL effectively managed this situation and put this behind them – they'd likely be able to recover some of the lost viewership and if they didn’t...? Potentially even more downside... Three weeks in there’s very much a mixed verdict.
Overall NFL ratings are down about 1.4% through week three
Clearly not what the NFL was hoping for but also a potential sign of stability at least for now. Overall three of the national timeslots are down with two that’ve actually increased audience over a year ago slightly. Here’s the breakdown:
- Thursday night: -2.3%
- Sunday early: +2%
- Sunday late: -3%
- Sunday night: 3.7%
- Monday night: -7.5%
For now, it looks like the NFL’s bleeding has slowed considerably. It’s possible the worst is over for the league but clearly, they haven’t been able to win back fans who left over the past couple of years and there’s a wild card. I’ve previously advanced the idea that there are some fans who aren’t happy with the NFL generally but are still fans of their team specifically. As the season advances and certain teams fall out of contention will ratings slide faster? There’s been some evidence that this may have occurred last year. Stay tuned (or don’t as the case may be).