NFL Ratings Down

Written by Bill Thomas on December 30, 2020

The television ratings for the economic juggernaut known as the National Football League are down thus far in 2020. According to the Wall Street Journal, “TV and digital NFL ratings were down 7% across the broadcast and cable networks that carry games.”

As the season nears the playoffs and Super Bowl, “some networks also have considered letting advertisers pay less for commercials during NFL games and other programming than they originally pledged.”

Reasons for the decline include:

  • The time suck of the 2020 presidential election coverage that drew viewers away from NFL games.
  • The postponements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Backlash from some fans over the league’s social justice efforts, including its embrace of Black Lives Matter.
  • Ad-free streaming services were also blamed for luring away the audience, as has the overlap with other sports like basketball and hockey that traditionally have ended before the NFL season starts.

While all of these explanations have merit, it seems to me that many Americans have had it with celebrity-elites pontificating to us, the regular folks, about how we ought to live, think and manage our lives. We’ve reached the point where their exercise of the freedom of speech is eliciting our exercise of the freedom not to watch or care.

Today’s professional athlete believes he or she has, not only the right, but the obligation to promote liberal causes. Make no mistake. Conservative athletes are not allowed to share views.

Aubrey Huff was not invited to the San Francisco Giants World Series reunion because of what the team deemed to be “offensive tweets.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees made comments earlier this year about respecting the flag and was ripped by the media and teammates. He later walked back the comments.

Meanwhile, we, the American people, get daily doses of liberal talking points from the likes of LeBron James of the NBA.  We get Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, say of Colin Kaepernick, “We should have listened.”

The truth is many of us have had it. Some have walked away from the games completely. It would be interesting to see what ticket sales might be if they were selling tickets. A lot of people, I include myself in this camp, are no longer watching every moment of every game. We’ve gone from passionate fans to casual at best.

I am from Kansas City and have been a Chiefs fan forever. I was thrilled when they won Super Bowl LIV. I loved watching the amazingly talented Patrick Mahomes.  He’s still amazingly talented, but I don’t need to know Mahomes’ political views, nor do I want him to tell me how I should think, either. In 2020, I got a steady diet of both.  So, I don’t watch as much anymore. I don’t care as much anymore.

The NFL is no longer just about football. It no longer brings together people of all walks of life.  It has aligned itself with left-wing, liberal views, alienating those of us who think differently. I know that the NFL is hardly troubled by my thoughts.  I also doubt if they are too concerned about a seven percent drop in ratings, though if it were to continue, that might matter.  I do, though, find it interesting and perhaps a bit sad that the things which once brought us all together, now highlight our differences.

Bill Thomas
Bill Thomas lives in Washington, Missouri and is a professor at St. Louis Christian College. He's also on staff at First Christian Church in Washington, Missouri. He's authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-First Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace, The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH.