NFL TV Ratings Drop the Ball, But Advertisers Aren’t Punting

Posted on: October 7, 2016, 12:30h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2016, 12:58h.

NFL TV ratings are down through the first four weeks of the regular season. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), overall viewership is 10 percent less through September than it was in 2015.

NFL TV ratings down Colin Kaepernick
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t too enthused on standing for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and that’s allegedly leading to less enthusiasm among fans, as NFL TV ratings are down. (Image: Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

Nielsen ratings show the steepest audience declines on primetime broadcasts. ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the long-running franchise that typically airs the marquee game of the week, is down 11 percent.

Some of the NFL TV ratings dips are understandable. On September 26, Monday Night Football went up against the historic presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But regardless of the ongoing Clinton-Trump squabble, there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm among NFL football fans. Experts say the trend is concerning, but there’s no reason for panic.

“We’re missing some stars out there,” NFL Head of Media Brian Rolapp told the WSJ. “There are bumps along the road, but it’s not like we haven’t been here before.”

Sports Betting Saves

A quick and easy solution to turn around the NFL TV ratings, at least according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), is to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and legalize sports betting.

Last month, the AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board noted, “The current approach is not working.”

“The time has come to repeal the current sports betting ban and replace it with rigorous regulations that benefit states, protect consumers and maintain the integrity of the games,” Tim Murphy, a former FBI deputy director who’s now working with the AGA said. “Instead of curbing illegal betting, the law has driven sports betting underground, creating a thriving, $150-$500 billion black market.”

The AGA also says legalized sports betting would increase television ratings.

Citing a Nielsen Sports study, AGA President Geoff Freeman explained, “Broadcasters and advertisers who desire highly engaged viewers would reap the benefits of shifting tens of millions of sports bettors from the $150 billion underground betting market to a legal, transparent environment that’s similar to what exists in Nevada, across Europe and elsewhere around the world.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

For PASPA to be repealed, the US Supreme Court would have to declare it’s unconstitutional. Otherwise, Congress would need to pass new sports betting legislation, and there currently seems to be little enthusiasm in Washington, DC, to expand sports gambling.

Protesting Protestors

While some believe the election is detracting viewers from tuning into the NFL, a new poll shows the ongoing national anthem protests by certain players is potentially fueling a boycott.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll found that 32 percent of American adults say they’re less likely to watch an NFL game due to the “growing number of Black Lives Matter protests.” San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited the movement when he refused to stand for the United States national anthem during a preseason game in August.

Rolapp denied the survey’s conclusions, saying, “We’ve been in the news in other ways before and haven’t seen a material impact on ratings.”

But Rasmussen stands by its study, and states it has a 95 percent level of confidence with the statistics.