When trying to explain the NFL’s massive ratings drop this year, CBS CEO Les Moonves has a particular culprit in mind when naming the fly in the NFL’s ratings ointment. Moonves blames Donald Trump. Well, in fairness, he also blames Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Moonves addressed reporters and analysts at the UBS 44th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Monday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Moonves said that less-than-stellar ratings for NFL games earlier this season is the fault of Peyton Manning (retired), Tom Brady (suspended for the first four games) and Donald Trump (because too many people preferred his presidential campaign to football).
“But ratings have come back, and he predicted by the end of the year the overall ratings for NFL games will be “down a couple of points … not a big deal.””
What Moonves says here constitutes nothing more than the same warmed-over, Goodell-ian talking points that the NFL has trotted out all year.
NFL ratings did not surge after Tom Brady’s suspension concluded in October. So pinning the NFL’s viewership woes on that, makes no sense. In regards to Manning, remember that Peyton Manning got benched last season for Brock Osweiler, the worst quarterback in the world. More to the point, at no time did NFL ratings plummet during the seven weeks where Osweiler started in place of Manning, which if you follow Moonves’ logic should have happened.
Blaming Trump’s campaign doesn’t make a lot of sense either. During the election, there were only three instances where primetime political events conflicted with primetime NFL events. Yet, up through the last game before the election, ratings had fallen in 26 of 27 NFL primetime games. Clearly, neither the election in general, nor Trump in particular, caused that level of viewership carnage.
Moonves cannot credibly say that the “ratings have come back,” after the election. On Sunday, November 13th, the first Sunday after the election, 80.5 million people tuned in to watch NFL football. However, that’s still one million fewer viewers than the NFL drew on that same Sunday last year.
Yes, on Thanksgiving Day the Redskins and Cowboys drew an amazing 35.1 million viewers, causing many to believe that the NFL’s season long viewership nightmare had finally come to an end. However, the next week NFL ratings came in six percent lower than the previous year. In short, there’s no real evidence that NFL ratings have recovered, post-election.
Les Moonves knows all of this and continues repeating the easily-refutable NFL talking points about retired quarterbacks and Donald Trump instead of telling people the truth, which is that Roger Goodell decided to make his league the playground and showcase for radical leftist activists like Colin Kaepernick and others, resulting in a mass exodus of formerly NFL-loving fans who decided that some things in life more important than football.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn