The increasingly politicized NFL has been increasingly less watched. Sure, the sliding ratings aren't all because of the divisive #TakeAKnee saga — cord-cutting is certainly the biggest factor in declining numbers — but many former fans have made clear that the anthem protests have played a key role in their decision to tune out the "Social Justice League." The NFL's losses worsened in Week 11.
The NFL's numbers throughout the season have followed a relatively consistent trend, falling an average of around 6% from the previous year. The New York Post notes that Week 11 saw a slight steepening of that decline, pushing the total average losses to 6.3% behind 2016. In total, the league has lost about 1 million viewers on average compared to last year, down to 14.9 million from 15.9 million.
The Post notes that "only two games had audience gains": the Sunday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys (up 12%) and the single-header on Fox between the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins (up 10%).
The decline in ratings from the 2016 season is even more troubling for the league in light of the even steeper decline from 2015 to 2016, in which the ratings were down 9% during the regular season and 6% in the playoffs. Since 2015, regular season ratings are currently down around 15%.
One of the reasons for the slight downturn in viewers in Week 11 might be some of the continued on-and-off-the-field turmoil, including President Trump once again condemning the protests by slamming the Oakland Raiders' Marshawn Lynch for sitting for most of the national anthem and then standing for the Mexican national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Sunday.
"Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down."
A J.D. Power poll conducted over the summer found that the number one reason fans gave for turning the channel were the national anthem protests, which escalated significantly this year after Trump called on team owners to suspend or fire "son of a b****" players who continued to kneel.
Another league controversy last week revolved around the power struggle between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who also landed in headlines due to a 2013 video that surfaced in which Jones cracked a racial joke.
"Jennifer, congratulations on the wedding," Jones told a bride-to-be at the Warwick Melrose Hotel in Dallas. "Now you know he’s with a black girl tonight, don't you?"
Jones apologized Friday for the joke. "That comment was inappropriate. It's not who I am, and I'm sorry," he said in a statement.
H/T NY Post.