Last week, President Trump launched a national controversy when he criticized the NFL players taking a knee in protest of the National Anthem. At a rally in Alabama, Trump told his supporters that the best way to counter these protests is by boycotting NFL games.
NFL ratings have been in a nosedive since Colin Kaepernick started protesting the National Anthem last year. Ratings were so bad last year that networks broadcasting NFL games were forced to pay advertisers back as they failed to meet ratings expectations. Now, with ratings even lower than they were last year, and President Trump highlighting the NFL’s disrespect of Americans, TV networks are about to start writing massive refund checks to advertisers, Business Insider reported.
NFL ratings began to decline last year as Colin Kaepernick started to protest alleged police brutality against black Americans by kneeling during the National Anthem. According to Yahoo Finance, the NFL blamed the low ratings on the election cycle, claiming the tightly fought contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was drawing eyeballs away from sports. Yet, this theory proved inadequate as ratings continued to plummet in the weeks after November 8th.
Other reasons offered for the NFL’s poor ratings were too many commercial breaks, and crackdowns on touchdown celebrations. The NFL attempted to attract viewers for the 2017 season by reducing the number of commercial breaks and allowing players to express themselves with end zone celebrations, yet ratings are still down from last year.
It seems that the NFL is looking to blame everything for their poor ratings but Colin Kaepernick.
However, a J.D. Power and Associates study released at the end of the 2016 season revealed that the number one reason people watched less football was because of National Anthem protests. Of the respondents surveyed, 30 percent said they are turning off the NFL because of Colin Kaepernick and his followers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Now, only three weeks into the 2017 regular season and things are not looking good for the NFL or their television partners.
“Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!” President Trump tweeted early this morning.
John Janedis, a Jefferies analyst, explained that advertising revenue for the NFL will take a major hit this year. He notes that CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC will make about $2.5 billion from advertising during NFL games, down 10 percent from previous years. This translates to more than $200 million in lost revenue. Yet, as ratings continue to dip, these losses will continue to mount.
When advertisers purchase ad time from major broadcasters like NBC and CBS, they are guaranteed a level of audience reach. If ratings are below what the network expected, they are forced to make up this difference with advertisers by offering audience deficiency units.
Last year, audience deficiency units awarded for NFL games saw a sharp increase as ad revenue dwindled between 17 and 34 percent across various networks in comparison to the 2015 season. Now, as the 2017 season fails to reach the expectations of even the abyssal 2016 season, networks are preparing to pay back advertisers.