Poll Finds That National Anthem Protests Are the Main Reason Why NFL Ratings Are Down

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National anthem protests are apparently the leading factor for the National Football League’s plummeting television ratings this season, according to a new poll.

With viewership down by approximately 12 per cent this season, a poll conducted by Seton Hall shows 56 per cent of football fans voted yes when asked if players not standing for the anthem is one of the contributing factors accounting for the drop.

Distraction from the presidential campaign and controversy over the handling of domestic violence cases among players were also were also cited as top factors for the decline in the NFL’s viewership through the first five weeks, findings showed.

‘It is somewhat remarkable that the impact of the national anthem protest seems to hold, given that the action occurs pregame and isn’t even televised,’ Rick Gentile, director of the poll said.

Protests during the national anthem have been a hot-button issue in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing.

Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and many athletes from other sports have since followed his lead in various ways, including linking arms during the anthem.

The poll, conducted October 24-26, surveyed 841 adults across the US, asking each participant to identify seven different factors as a reason accounting for the decline in ratings.

Weighing in on each of the factors, respondents were allowed to answer ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’, with national anthem protests receiving the most yes responses.

Another factor scoring ‘yes’ at a high rate was coverage of the race for the White House between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with 50 per cent of yes responses.

On the question of domestic violence, 47 per cent cited the handling of cases involving players.

That particular factor was closely split between men and women as being a possible factor with 47 per cent of men voting yes while 46 of women said yes.

Other factors included included over saturation of the market at 44 per cent and increased interest post-season baseball at 39 per cent.

Tied at 33 per cent was the ongoing controversy over head injuries and a decline in quality of play on the field.

The NFL – America’s dominant sporting event and for decades its most prized piece of television programming – was long thought to be immune to the fragmentation of traditional viewing audiences that has plagued other broadcasting properties.

But league executives have been searching for answers in response to the dwindling audiences and sagging television ratings over the course of the first five games of the 2016 season.

The decline has been concerning enough that league executives recently sent an internal memo to the NFL media committee, comparing this year’s slide to a lesser decline during the 2000 election cycle and conceding that, ‘While our partners, like us, would have liked to see higher ratings, they remain confident in the NFL and unconcerned about a long-term issue.’

None of this is to say the NFL is hurting.

That same league memo that recognized this year’s ratings issues said overall NFL viewership has increased 27 per cent over the past 15 years.

In 2015, the NFL accounted for 63 of the top 100 TV shows.

SOURCE: Daily Mail