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Volume 25 No. 177
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Unprecedented Presidential Election Seen As Potential Reason NFL Ratings Are Down

NFL ratings continue to be down this season, and one possible reason is that the "craziness of this Presidential election campaign has siphoned viewers (particularly males) away from football," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. The "hyper-insanity of the political news cycle and the reality show nature of Trump's candidacy" may have taken some viewers "away from sports." The election may not be sole reason for the downturn, but it is a "big one." What would "back up this thesis would be an uptick in the NFL ratings from the middle of November to the end of the season." If ratings are flat versus '15 or "tick up during the last six weeks of the NFL's regular season," viewers will "know the Presidential election campaign had a lot to do with it." The NFL also has been impact by several other factors, including a "smaller group of star quarterbacks (no Peyton Manning or Tom Brady), an awful set of Monday Night Football games, a potential slowing down in fantasy football growth, some fatigue from what [Mavericks Owner] Mark Cuban discussed as the NFL expanding its television package to an additional night, and some truly awful games on Sunday." Deitsch: "Nothing goes up forever, and the NFL was due for some sort of ratings correction" (SI.com, 10/4). In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Ourand, Karp & Kaplan note some TV execs believe between the "Olympics and the unique presidential race, viewer drops for traditional sports were expected this year." Fox Sports Senior VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill indicated that this year "reminds him of 2000, when the George Bush-Al Gore race was left undecided until December." That is the "only year from 2000 to 2010 where all four NFL TV packages dropped from the previous year." Mulvihill: "I would really start with the election -- I don’t think you have to look much deeper than that. ... So much of a share of attention has gone to the campaign, it seems like it has affected everything else” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/3 issue).

MORE THAN JUST A SPEED BUMP? SPORTING NEWS' David Steele wrote it is "too early to reach conclusions about anything this season, including whether the widely-reported ratings drop is or isn't just a speed bump." It is also "way too early to decide in the six weeks" since 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's protests first went public "whether that's even a factor" in the NFL's ratings decline. The "increasingly poor product the league is presenting us has been on display a lot longer than the protests." Steele: "The NFL got away with it for a long time" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/4).

PROTESTING THE PROTESTS: A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that 32% of adult respondents are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the on-field protests taking place this season. The telephone and online survey found that only 13% of respondents are more likely to watch a game because of the protests, while just over half (52%) said that the protests have no impact on their viewing decisions. The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted on October 2-3. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points (Rasmussen Reports).