Al Michaels Cites Player Protests During The Anthem As Reason For NFL Ratings Decline
NBC's Al Michaels "cited players' protests against racial injustice during the national anthem as one of a myriad reasons" NFL ratings may be down, according to Rob Tornoe of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Ratings for NBC's "SNF" so far this season are "down" 8% compared to last year, though it "remains the most-watched program in primetime." Michaels said, "It’s number one and it’s getting bashed because the ratings are down. Two or three years ago, the ratings were so spectacular that there had to be a little bit of a diminishment at some point." Michaels said that it felt like tension over the protests was starting to "cooling down, until President Trump weighed in during a September rally in Huntsville, Ala." Michaels: "Once the president made those remarks in Alabama, at that particular point it was like throwing a match into a gas tank. During the off-season, both sides just have to sit down and figure out a way to make this a situation where it doesn’t overwhelm the conversation about the NFL" (PHILLY.com, 11/16).
KEEPING CURRENT: In N.Y., Justin Terranova notes CBS' Tony Romo's "familiarity with the current game and ability to recognize defenses ... has impressed viewers" this season, but the question is whether Romo is "revolutionary or repeatable." Players have "come straight from the field to the booth and have had success before, from Phil Simms to Troy Aikman." Fox will "give another current player an opportunity," with Panthers TE Greg Olsen joining the booth for Rams-Vikings on Sunday. Fox Senior VP/Production & Talent Development Jacob Ullman said, "You’ll see active players pop up on various networks and it’s feeling out on both sides." Olsen and Dolphins QB Jay Cutler could be "two options" if Fox or another network "look to choose from recently retired players to match the magic CBS has found with Romo" (N.Y. POST, 11/17).
TWO FOR ONE? In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes the combined ratings for the Rams and Chargers in the L.A. market are "falling far short of what the Rams did by themselves" during their last year in St. Louis in '15. Reports show that 7.5% of homes in the L.A. market "have tuned in to the Rams’ seven games to date this season, slightly edging" the 7.4 rating the Chargers have drawn there for their eight contests. The combined 14.9 figure is nearly 20% below the 18.5 figure the Rams did in '15. The Rams at 7-2 have been the "surprise team in the NFL, as little was expected of them." But their last three games have "averaged just a 6.8 rating" in L.A. The last three weeks in St. Louis, which has been "abandoned by the NFL, the game shown in the late-afternoon slot has averaged a 10.4 rating" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/17).
LOOKING FOR PRIMETIME: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes it may be "incorrectly inferred that NBC has snubbed the Rams by deciding not to pick up their game against New Orleans in Week 12 and elevate it to a prime-time window" as part of “SNF,” but there are "all sorts of things that come into play for the NFL to decide how games are moved." Fox could be "anticipating the Week 14 Rams-Eagles or Week 15 Rams-Seahawks game is more likely to be moved" to “SNF,” and is "negotiating whether to protect those contests or allow movement based on what it can get in return from NBC or CBS." The end-game for the NFL in Week 12 "was to get Rams-Saints to more viewers." Week 12 is a CBS double-header weekend, and Rams-Saints now are "set to be shown" to about 80% of the country. On Fox it "would have been relegated" to about 20% because of its "limitations to showing just one game that Sunday" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/17).