After a nearly double-digit ratings freefall last year, the NFL experiences a lighter than expected demand for advertising buys for the upcoming season.
“A number of factors have conspired to cast a bit of a pall over this year’s NFL market, which some insiders say is the softest since the Great Recession of 2008,” Ad Age points out. “For example, a number of marquee clients have slashed their pro football spend, while a few load-bearing categories aren’t committing anywhere near as many dollars to the NFL as they did a year ago.
A source for Ad Age estimates a two percent to four percent increase in the price of commercials. Declines in demand for advertising from automobiles, movies, and male sexual enhancement products account for sales not meeting expectations.
The piece speculates that the saturated schedule of NFL games, which include Thursday night broadcasts, several Sunday morning contests from London, and Saturday doubleheaders in Week 16 and Week 17, diminishes demand. A consumer shift away from broadcast television toward streaming services also receives consideration as a factor in the softening of expected sales. The article avoids mention of Colin Kaepernick, and several other players, who protested the national anthem in 2016 by refusing to rise as adversely impacting the league’s bottom line.
Fans repeatedly cited Kaepernick’s protest as the top cause of their disinterest in football in 2016. In a Seton Hall poll, for instance, fans cited the anti-anthem protests as the top reason for tuning out NFL broadcasts.
NFL ratings declined by nine percent in 2016.
Penalties for hits once considered clean, rules largely negating the excitement of kick returns, referee involvement slowing the pace of the game, the suspension of Tom Brady for four games and the retirement of Peyton Manning, and players making a political football of football all come up as reasons for the ratings drop. A resurgent Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots looking to extend their dynasty after winning one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history, and Colin Kaepernick promising to end his protest should he find a suitor in free agency all give the league hope for a turn-around in 2017.