The NFL allowed players to use the league’s national stage to disgrace the flag and the anthem. The NFL also chose to take the players side against the leader of the free world, when he rightfully called those players out. As a result, it appears the league may have done irreparable harm to its brand.
The ratings for Monday Night Football on ESPN tanked hard in Week 4.
According to Yahoo! Entertainment, “Coming off last week’s Dallas Cowboys’ 28-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals, where the ratings actually went up for MNF, last night’s game was not a victory for the Disney-owned cable giant nor the NFL in the early numbers.
“Against a packed Big 4 primetime, MNF snared an 8.4 in metered market numbers. That’s down 10% from the Cowboys and Cardinals game of September 25. Year-to-year, the Chiefs’ fourth straight win this season dipped 8% in the early numbers from the comparable Minnesota Vikings’ 24-10 win over the New York Giant on October 3, 2016 – a season of sliding ratings that the NFL wants to forget, but may repeat.”
It can’t be understated how bad these numbers are for the NFL. But first, some will say that Kansas City is not a major-market team and that has something to do with the poor performance, especially coming off last week, which featured Dallas and Arizona.
That point is not without merit, however, the Chiefs entered last night as the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL. Throughout NFL television history, an unbeaten team playing on Monday night has always equaled ratings, regardless of market size. Not to mention, the Redskins come from a top-10 TV market. Which also makes up for KC’s smaller market size.
Another factor, which had to have figured into this to some degree, was that ESPN reversed its earlier decision to not show the anthem after the shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night. While that serves as a nice gesture from ESPN, that also means we saw another anthem protest during the game last night. An event that has become commonplace in the league, and wildly unpopular among the fans.
All in all, this is a tremendous mess for the NFL, and ESPN. If the NFL can’t make Monday Night Football go, it might not be too long before college football replaces the NFL as the most popular sport in the land.