Television executives at major sports networks across the country are scrambling ahead of this year’s lackluster Super Bowl, struggling to excite fans and increase advertising revenue as the NFL’s coveted playoff viewership continues to free fall.
“This year’s NFL playoffs haven’t made easy watching for the big media owners of sports television rights. Last weekend’s divisional games followed the same dismal pattern as the season, with viewership declines across the board — some of them pretty spectacular,” writes Bloomberg.
Network executives had hoped that the 8% drop in the 2016 season was a simple blip on the radar, explained by “competing excitement” surrounding the US presidential race and Donald Trump’s election and inauguration.
Now, NFL owners and officials believe their disastrous 2017 season was caused by a host of factors, mainly “millennial disinterest” and protesting players choosing to “take a knee” during the performance of the national anthem.
The embattled league has been hemorrhaging fans for nearly two years after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked the “kneeling” controversy in 2016.
President Trump led-the-charge against the protesting players last year, calling for a national boycott until league officials ended the on-field demonstrations.