Television executives at major sports networks across the country are scrambling ahead of this year’s lackluster Super Bowl, struggling to excite fans and increase advertising revenue as the NFL’s coveted playoff viewership continues to free fall.
“This year’s NFL playoffs haven’t made easy watching for the big media owners of sports television rights. Last weekend’s divisional games followed the same dismal pattern as the season, with viewership declines across the board — some of them pretty spectacular,” writes Bloomberg.
Network executives had hoped that the 8% drop in the 2016 season was a simple blip on the radar, explained by “competing excitement” surrounding the US presidential race and Donald Trump’s election and inauguration.
Now, NFL owners and officials believe their disastrous 2017 season was caused by a host of factors, mainly “millennial disinterest” and protesting players choosing to “take a knee” during the performance of the national anthem.
The embattled league has been hemorrhaging fans for nearly two years after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked the “kneeling” controversy in 2016.
President Trump led-the-charge against the protesting players last year, calling for a national boycott until league officials ended the on-field demonstrations.
END ZONE: NBC Says Major MEGA-SPONSORS Ready to DROP NFL
Following last week’s announcement from Papa John’s founder John Schnatter that they would begin removing NFL-related advertisements, NBC executives are now warning the National Football League that other mega-sponsors are mulling whether to follow the pizza chain and pull future ads from the 2017 season.
According to Ad Week, NBC-Universal executive Linda Yaccarino told a round-table discussion that Papa John’s “wasn’t alone” in expressing their outrage over months of professional athletes “taking a knee” during the US national anthem.
“None of NBC-Universal’s NFL advertisers have pulled out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football or Thursday Night Football games. However, a ‘list of advertisers have made themselves very clear: if you continue covering the political coverage of the issue, we will not be part of the NFL,'” she said. “Because think about it: they have half the country that is cheering about that, and they have half the country that is emailing them, saying, don’t do that. So that’s a real thing.”
The NFL has been struggling to regain its footing following weeks of players choosing to “take a knee” during the performance of the US national anthem.
The ensuing controversy gained national attention when President Trump called for a total boycott of the NFL until officials and owners require players to stand during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’
FREE FALL: Thursday Night Football Ratings TANK as NFL Hides US Anthem
The National Football League continues to suffer serious rating problems following weeks of player protests during the national anthem, with ratings for their flagship Thursday Night Football match-up down yet again following last week’s record lows.
According to Deadline Hollywood, this week’s Thursday night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers continued the league’s ratings disaster, down at least 5% from just a week ago and down nearly 10% from this time last season.
More troubling for the NFL was CBS decision to not-air the performance of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ during the pre-game ceremonies, instead cutting to the game as players rushed the field.
“Perhaps there was some of the once usual NFL audience who choose not to watch at all. Last night’s game was down 5% from last week’s [game] where all the players stood during the national anthem in part in tribute to the victims of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas just days before,” says Deadline.
The NFL is struggling to ease tensions with furious fans over their professional athletes’ months-long protest of the national anthem. As ratings plummet, owners and officials are beginning to bar their players from “taking a knee” before the game. This week, just two teams –the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins- banned their athletes from “disrespecting” the anthem and the flag.