The disastrous season for the NFL has gotten even worse after the ratings for the NFL's Wild Card Weekend were released. TV ratings, and stadium attendance have been down all season, but the league was hoping the start of the playoffs would bring a boost. Instead it was more of the same, with each of the four games seeing a double digit drop in ratings from last season.
Sports Illustrated has the numbers, and they do not bode well for the league.
Titans-Chiefs (14.7) was down 11 percent versus last year's Raiders-Texans game.
Falcons-Rams (14.9) was down 10 percent versus last year's Lions-Seahawks game.
Bills-Jaguars (17.2) was down 10 percent versus last year's Dolphins-Steelers game.
Panthers-Saints (20.4) was down 21 percent versus last year's Giants-Packers game.
Overall, the games were down an average of 14% from 2017. Some blame the down ratings on the fact that Dallas, Green Bay and Seattle, three of the NFL's biggest TV draws, were not playing.
All told, Wild Card overnight ratings were down 14% vs 2017—not at all surprising given the absence of three of the NFL's biggest TV draws (Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle), the rep from the No. 1 DMA (NY Giants) and Pittsburgh's having earned a bye week.— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) January 8, 2018
But that only explains part of the issue. A recent poll conducted by SurveyMonkey and Ozy Media showed that 33% of NFL fans have "purposely stopped watching" the NFL. When asked why, 32% of the people explained it was "in support of Donald Trump." According Yahoo Sports a nearly equal number of respondents said they stopped watching "in solidarity with players kneeling" (22%) or to show "support of Colin Kaepernick," (12%) who started the league wide protests in 2016 when he took a knee during the national anthem.
Another issue fans had was the beating that players take and the potential impact on their long term health. 11% of fans said they no longer watch because of "news about traumatic brain injuries among players."
Will the NFL rebound in this weekend's divisional games, or can the league and TV networks expect more of the same?