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For a few weeks now, the NFL has reportedly dropped in ratings. According to CBS Boston, just this past week, the NFL saw a ratings decline of 20%, and that was with a great game lined up for prime time on Sunday. The Denver Broncos faced off against the rejuvenated Oakland Raiders, with the winner taking first place in the AFC West division. For the most part, so far, the games have been decent enough…
What could be contributing to these falling ratings? Well there are multiple factors coming into play this year.
The first factor being that we recently had one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory. It understandably was tough for regular season NFL games to compete with the potential and eventual success of the Chicago Cubs ending their 108-year drought.
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Another factor could be Colin Kaepernick’s protests. Since the preseason, Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has been kneeling during the National Anthem in protest to the recent violence by law enforcement in this country. These protests have outraged many fans, obviously enough for some to stop watching all together. It doesn’t help the NFL that these protests have spread across the league to multiple teams and players. Right or wrong, this could be a potential reason for the recent ratings dip.
Anyone that watches football also knows that the amount of commercials aired at times is almost unbearable. The average NFL game is around 3 hours; it’s also a widely read statistic that the average NFL game contains over 100 commercials and just 11 minutes of play (calculated by the Wall Street Journal). The quality of play has arguably been a factor as well. Aside from commercials, the second most annoying thing for a football fan is penalties. According to USA Today Sports, the number of penalties has been steadily rising for years now. In 2013, the NFL saw 3,134 penalties; 2014 had 3,386 penalties; 2015 had 3545, and in 2016 we are up to 1868 penalties so far. At this rate, we could potentially see over 3,700 penalties this season alone. The Oakland Raiders actually broke the record for most penalties in a game by one team this season with 24 penalties.
The final, and possibly most important, factor is that this is an election year. Everyone would agree that this has been an exhausting year for the American people in terms of candidate decisions. With one of the most interesting and polarizing elections happening, it’s no wonder more people are paying attention to who may run the country instead of sports. The first two presidential debates actually aired on a Sunday and a Monday, two days that the NFL garners a lot of it’s viewership. The same day of the first presidential debate, the Atlanta Falcons faced off against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. According to an article by Jeff Spross in The Week magazine, viewership fell 41 percent for the NFL during the first debate. This just enforces the fact that more people are paying attention to politics at this time because this is when it matters most.
It makes sense that people are giving their time and attention to the presidential race over football because it’s more important and really, it’s more interesting at this point. Seemingly everyday something happens with either candidate that adds a new storyline to the election. How could people not be interested? Honestly though, it’s realistic to think that after the election or maybe even as late as next season, the NFL will tick back up in ratings and everything will go back to the way it was. Although, it will certainly be interesting to see how the NFL’s ratings compare once the election is over. If ratings don’t go up, the NFL may have a serious problem on its hands.