Normally, NFL ratings increase as the league gets closer and closer to its all-important postseason conclusion, at least that’s how it used to work for the NFL.
However, after years of allowing their league to become a platform for anti-American protest and social justice messaging, now fans lose interest just as the league is supposed to become more interesting.
Week 14 is the latest example of this phenomenon, as NFL games averaged 15.2 million viewers, down 11% from last year. The league’s 15.2 million viewership average is also down eight percent season-to-date.
The ratings fall is especially important given the strong performance of last Monday night’s Ravens-Browns game, which saw a nine percent increase from last year.
According to Front Office Sports:
The stakes are high. All of the league’s media deals expire after the 2021 and 2022 seasons. There are potentially billions of dollars at stake as the NFL tries to nearly double its $5 billion annual rights fees from media partners ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox.
After growing 5% in each of the past two seasons, some TV executives worry the NFL’s 7% drop through the halfway point of 2020 augurs a return to the 2016 and 2017 seasons — when average audiences fell 8% and 10%, respectively.
The league will now look to flex scheduling and what they hope will be tantalizing playoff matchups to reverse the ratings decline. If that doesn’t happen, the league could lose billions of dollars as their bargaining power with broadcast partners fades.