The NFL’s TV ratings for both the regular season, as well as the playoffs, have tanked this year. However, college football’s playoff ratings have soared.
With the NFL off nearly ten percent over 2016 for its regular-season games, and its playoff games down even worse year-over-year; college football saw a healthy rise in ratings, Outkick The Coverage noted.
“[T]he college football playoff surged despite airing only on cable and featuring only Southern teams while the NFL tanked despite games being available for free on ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox,” Outkick’s Clay Travis wrote. “The NFL’s 13% collapse in ratings follows a 2017 football season that saw NFL ratings decline 9.7% and this year’s fall comes on the heels of another 8% ratings decline from the 2016 football season.”
The NFL has lost nearly 20 percent of its TV audience since 2015 and photos of empty stadiums became an unfortunate Internet meme this season.
There have been many reasons proffered for the NFL’s decline. From too many games, to cord-cutting, to easy availability to Internet game highlights, to distaste over players involved in domestic violence and drug use, and player safety concerns. But, most of these same concerns apply to college football, too, yet its playoff ratings have surged.
Many point to the protests as the reason the NFL stumbled, even though players have launched protests during the playing of the national anthem in both pro and college leagues. Granted the protests at the college level have happened fewer times and been far less publicized, but there have been some such protests.
But it is the NFL that has earned the reputation as the anti-American game due to the protests. In Travis’s opinion, it is this problem the NFL has not been able to overcome in the past two seasons, saying, “the NFL has still been slow to react to this crisis in viewership that is costing its TV partners hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Some advertisers did announce their displeasure over the anthem protests last year, and even in 2016 the TV networks had to pay back advertising costs in “make-goods” causing the networks to lose millions in ad rates.
As with college football, ratings for the NBA also soared for the 2017 season, so it isn’t sports in general that fans are abandoning. It seems to be just the NFL.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.