The political fallout from the 2017 anthem protests may even affect this year's Super Bowl.
According to results from a Seton Hall University survey, the once sure-fire ratings success that is the Super Bowl has found itself on shaky ground. During the NFL regular season, TV ratings fell by 10% on average, and it appears that the Super Bowl will not escape a similar fate.
The survey conducted by Seton Hall, which polled 706 Americans across the country, showed that among those who identify as NFL fans, 16% replied they will not be watching the big game this year. The poll has a 3.8% margin of error.
Though the poll did not ask people their reasons for not watching, the political controversies surrounding players kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality cannot be overlooked.
The poll did, however, ask people their opinion regarding the NFL protests; a total of 46% said they disapproved.
Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, said the 16% "should be a concern to the league, the broadcasters and especially the advertisers." Yahoo News has more:
Seton Hall also asked people whether the New England Patriots being in the game for the third time in four seasons makes them more or less inclined to root for them: 12% said they feel more inclined, 20% said less inclined, and 62% said it makes no difference to them.
Finally, Seton Hall asked about viewership methods: Will you watch the game on a TV, or on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet? In 2016, 98% said they would watch on a TV. This year, that figure is down to 90%.
Fans avoiding the Super Bowl may have less to do with the anthem protesters and more with the league itself. Rather than mandating that the players stand for the anthem, the NFL allowed the players to continue their divisive protests — on their dime and in front of paying fans — unchecked.
To make matters worse, leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL barred an ad from airing during the big game supporting the national anthem that was paid for by army veterans.