NFL TV figures that were presented to owners in N.Y. this week show an overall decline of 7.5% in viewership year-to-year, but what was not able to be seen was the "consistency in how the numbers sunk across the board, something the owners showed concern over inside those meetings rooms," according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Through six weeks, NFL TV figures were "down in 20 of 36 windows" across NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN and NFL Net. The league's games in NFL home markets are averaging a 25.1 rating to date, down 6.7% from a 26.9 over the same period last year, and down from the 28.1-28.7 range where it sat from '13-15. Twenty-five of 31 teams (excluding the Chargers, because of the move to L.A.) are "drawing lower local numbers" than they did in '16. Nineteen have dropped 5% or more, including "brand name teams" like the Cowboys (-7%), Patriots (-8%), Steelers (-6%), Giants (-7%) and Jets (-37%). Conversely, only three teams -- the Chiefs, Bucs, Lions -- have "improved" by more than 5%. But it is important to note that TV ratings across the board --- not just sports -- are "dropping for a large number of reasons, mostly related to technology, the amount of options people have, and cord cutting." One NFL team source said, "I took away that compared to TV, the NFL is actually stronger year over year, compared to other programming. But the league does need to better understand how change in habits will affect ratings long-term" (SI.com, 10/19). In N.Y., Ken Belson cites an NFL owner as saying that the group was told that a "big part of the decline was the continued interest in cable news programs, as well as the different viewing habits of younger football fans." The owner said that league officials "did not say the anthem protests were at all responsible for some of the declines in ratings" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/19).
RESULT OF PROTESTS? Conservative commentator Mark Levin tweeted, "First, the NFL's ratings decline, then revenue will follow, then players' salaries will follow." But Bleacher Report's Ian Kenyon posted ratings were "down significantly more last year than they were this year, and protest outrage was pretty minimal last year. ... Logic would tell us that the reason for ratings falling since 2015 would be product related and/or cord cutting related."
DOLLARS & CENTS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton notes while some NFL sponsors have said that they "support the players’ right to protest, at least some are losing patience." A Mars Inc. spokesperson said that the company, which activates around its Snickers, Skittles and M&M's brands for the NFL deal, "isn’t taking a side on the issue, but wanted the NFL to resolve it." Mars in a statement said that it was "encouraged to hear about the positive and productive dialogue between the league and players." League sponsor USAA said that it has been in "regular contact with the league on this topic in recent weeks." A USAA spokesperson said, "We’ve communicated with the NFL that we believe it’s an honor to stand during the national anthem" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/19).