If the NFL is planning on record ratings numbers for Super Bowl LII, they’re going to have to do it without a large portion of their loyal fan base.
That’s the word from a recent poll which shows that even many loyal NFL fans, plan on doing something other than watching football on Super Bowl Sunday.
A poll conducted by Seton Hall University, surveyed 706 people from across the country via cellphones and landlines. The poll was conducted from January 29th to January 31st.
According to Yahoo!:
The first question asked people how closely they follow the NFL. Of those who said they follow it “very closely,” a group the survey identifies as NFL fans, 16% said they won’t watch this year’s Super Bowl. The poll has a 3.8% margin of error.
Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, calls 16% a “significant number” that “should be a concern to the league, the broadcasters and especially the advertisers.”
The poll didn’t ask those why say they won’t watch what their reasons are, but the political controversy that overshadowed this football season is almost surely a factor.
The poll did ask people if they approved, disapproved or had no opinion about NFL players who protested during the playing of the National Anthem throughout the season. 46% of people said they disapproved of the protests.
The predicted 16% percent drop among NFL viewers for Super Bowl Sunday, is more severe than the 10% hit the league’s ratings took in the regular season. Couple that with the 46% of respondents who said they disapproved of the anthem protests, and it’s highly likely the anthem protest movement played a large role in souring interest in the Super Bowl.
Though, as Daniel Roberts of Yahoo! points out, the Super Bowl is still a cultural event, not merely a sporting event. Meaning the game has traditionally relied on its ability to draw non-traditional football fans to the television screens. So the question becomes, will there be enough non-traditional viewers to offset the drop in traditional NFL fans?
We will soon find out.