The National Football League is in the midst of turbulent times as ratings for the second week of the football season received less than promising returns.
After a 12 percent dip during the kickoff weekend from 2016, week 2 saw a 15 percent slump from the previous year. The NFL on CBS singleheader on Sunday afternoon brought in an 8.4 rating and 14.5 million viewers, which is down 24 percent from last year’s broadcast on FOX that brought in an 11.0 rating and 19.2 million viewers. CBS’ 8.4 rating is the lowest its had since 1998.
CBS’ 8.4 rating is the lowest its had since 1998, and has seen double-digit drops for two straight weekends this year.
Some are arguing that the situation between Colin Kaepernick and the NFL is a reason why viewership is dropping. Progressives with big followings like social justice writer Shaun King have called for a complete boycott of the NFL for its “anti-blackness.” Meanwhile, conservatives like actor James Woods is boycotting the NFL, too, for allowing Kaepernick’s protest of the flag to happen in the first place.
Spencer Hall wrote in SB Nation that there’s a “very boring, simple explanation” for all of this and it’s because the NFL is getting devoured by its own economic model. Since NFL stakeholders can’t lose through a profit-sharing plan where even bad teams like the Cleveland Browns get the same amount of ad revenue as juggernauts like the New England Patriots. There’s no incentive to make the product better.
“It’s a form of laziness, and a special kind different from the standard laziness in the NFL,” Hall wrote. “Laziness bred from prosperity isn’t a new problem for NFL ownership and management. For every old-school Rooney or Mara or Hunt family intent on making at least an honest show of competing, producing a good product, and paying at least paltry attention to the demands of the consumer, there has been a Culverhouse or a Smith, owners who ran their franchises with the least possible effort and expenditure. The slumlords of the NFL took their rent, often without providing anything close to a finished building.”
While there’s not a singular factor as to why the NFL is suffering this season. As an avid football fan, I’ve noticed that the product has been lacking recently. While professional teams are immensely talented, through no fault of their own an aura of mediocrity persists with how the product is packaged.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore that at least a chunk of viewers who are boycotting the NFL over Kaepernick has contributed to the decline in ratings as more players throughout the league continue to protest the national anthem with fewer repercussions.