What Is the NFL Going to Do Now That Ratings are Decreasing?

NFL Going to Do Now That Ratings are Decreasing

The National Football League (NFL) has been steadily losing viewers and fans for years now, and it isn’t looking like the trend will reverse anytime soon. The league has announced that this year’s Super Bowl was the lowest-rated ever, with 98 million people tuning in to watch the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday, February 4th, 2018. Why are viewers tuning out? Are football fans finally over it and looking to something else? Are there just too many games these days?

1) Numbers Are Down Across the Board

The audience for NFL games has been steadily decreasing, and that’s likely to be a trend we see continue. Last year, one of football’s largest audiences—the Sunday night game between Atlanta and New Orleans—drew an audience of just 11.8 million viewers. Compare that with 2015, when there were two games with over 20 million viewers: San Francisco versus Green Bay on Thursday Night Football and Dallas against Washington on Monday Night Football. This season, so far there has only been one game with more than 20 million viewers: 12.5 million tuned in for Oakland versus Washington in Week 3.

2) People Watching on Mobile Are Dropping Off

The NFL is just one of many major brands that have been seeing a drop in ratings lately. According to Edison Research, there has been a 12% drop-off in viewers watching games on their mobile devices. This is important for advertisers who pay a lot of money for airtime during football games. They’re likely going to want some answers from ESPN and its affiliates about what they could be doing better so they can adjust their media buys accordingly. At stake here is $4 billion dollars worth of advertising money, which will go somewhere else if people don’t start watching again soon.

3) Sunday Night Football Has Seen Its Lowest Rating Since 2006

The 2017 season has been nothing but bad news for Sunday Night Football. The NBC show, which is airing games for only 17 weeks, hasn’t even managed to average a rating of 6.0 in any week so far. According to Sports Business Daily, not one single game managed a rating over 6.0 through seven weeks, making it just shy of 200 episodes without an episode rating above 6.0. The last time that happened was 2006 when ABC had Monday Night Football rights.

4) Advertisers Are Getting Frustrated by Lack of Reach

The second problem for broadcasters is that viewers aren’t sticking around to watch advertisements. If people can click away or change channels before ads start, advertisers don’t get what they want: market penetration. If you could run ads right when people were actually interested in them, you might get more out of them—especially if you could track what products they ended up buying, so there wouldn’t be any wasted marketing dollars. Well, guess what? You can do exactly that online—and even on television through over-the-top (OTT) streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. These platforms offer an ad-supported service with much better viewer metrics than traditional broadcast TV offers since there are no DVRs or second screens to distract attention away from an ad campaign.

Conclusion

The National Football League will have a decision to make. Will they change their current broadcast format? Is there any way they can get viewers back from technology and other forms of entertainment, such as Netflix and Facebook, which both saw an increase in ratings during Sunday Night Football’s last game? This has been a big issue for years now, but it’s only going to get worse for them if they don’t do something soon. Technology continues changing at a fast pace. Will we ever see streaming options or even virtual reality available in our homes and in high-quality 4K in the future? We may be stuck with hundreds of channels in our cable subscriptions, but there is no doubt that our viewing habits will change within decades unless people start watching TV again.


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