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Volume 25 No. 175
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Zygi Wilf Says Political Turmoil Contributing To NFL Ratings' Rise

NFL TV ratings are rising in part because people are exhausted by political turmoil and turning to sports, said Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf at this week’s SBJ Dealmakers in Sports conference in N.Y. NFL TV ratings, counter to many predictions, have rebounded from a two-year decline to rise 5% so far this season to an average of 15.8 million per game. Ironically, in the first year of that decline, the falling interest was blamed on the focus on the presidential campaign. And the '17 fall was blamed on people tuning out over the players’ protests during the national anthem. “People are getting tired of the politics now and they are turning on the TV and watching sports,” Wilf said. “There is nothing better to distract than sport.” Wilf’s explanation is different than what most seem to believe is happening, with the increases attributed by many to better games and the fact that the kneeling issue is fading. Wilf’s brother and co-owner, Mark, who was also on stage, cited such issues. He added that the anthem controversy has had some net pluses for teams by bringing management and players together on social justice initiatives.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Both Wilfs are cautious about the legalization of sports gambling. Zygi Wilf said federal oversight is needed or gamblers could find loopholes to take advantage of because of states with different rules and data feeds. And Mark Wilf said he worried about fans losing their “fandom” if they pay attention more to their bets than to the games.