What is the Cause of the NFL Ratings Drop this Season?

NFL Ratings

As the biggest ratings powerhouse on Television, no one expected NFL ratings to fall as they did this season, and many people are scrambling to understand the rationale behind the descent. Not that NFL lines and odds enthusiasts care, but this is an important issue for the league.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the NFL’s premier game, experienced a 12% drop in viewership from last year’s numbers. Monday Night Football, which typically reigns on EPSN, also saw a 12% decline in the numbers.

CBS’s First Thursday Night Football game was especially disappointing, with CBS reporting a 26% drop in the ratings. Of course, no one is foolish enough to declare the beginning of the downfall of the NFL.

Sure, football didn’t do as well as some people expected; however, NFL ratings still dwarf everything on TV today. Compared to The Walking Dead’s 14 million viewers for the Season Six Finale, the NFL’s average 18.3 million viewers across all networks are far more impressive.

Yet, the NFL is obviously concerned about these numbers. That average was 20.1 million viewers last year; the NFL is rightly concerned about this drop because it proves they are not immune to such ratings conundrums.

According to some experts, the NFL might be making a mountain out of a molehill. The NFL’s reach is still quite strong. The league has a decently healthy viewership. Football simply isn’t attracting the peak numbers some executives have grown to expect, and that might be more of a temporary hiccup than a permanent trend.

According to Billie Gold (Vice President and Director of Programming Research at Amplifi), the NFL’s present viewership problem can probably be blamed on the scarcity of big games in the last two weeks. The absence of prominent names hasn’t helped matters either.

The NFL obviously didn’t plan the scarcity of marquee match-ups early in the season, and they obviously didn’t think that would become such a large problem. The absence of prominent NFL superstars is especially worrisome.

One only needs to look at the match between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. The NBC Thursday night kickoff game should have been a huge draw, seeing as it was reenacting a highly exciting super bowl match from 2015.

Yet, the Broncos/Panthers numbers could have been higher; and some observers have argued that the absence of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning might have had something to do with the lack of interest.

Manning retired after the previous Super Bowl. Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round draft pick from 2015 replaced him; no one expected Trevor to draw big numbers, not when he was wearing shoes as big as those of Manning.

When the Arizona Cardinals faced the New England Patriots during NBC’s opening Sunday Night Match Up, no one could ignore the absence of Tom Brady who was suspended for four games because of the DeflateGate scandal.

The obvious scarcity of superstars wasn’t helped by the election fever gripping the country. The NFL is set to test its mettle on Monday when they go head to head with what some believe might be the most watched presidential debate in history.

The NFL might still be the most watched program on TV but these recent ratings drops prove that it isn’t invincible.


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