The National Football League (NFL) is seeing its viewership decline at an unusual steady pace. While most people are blaming the recent upsurge in protests, the evidence for this is minimal at best. For example NFL viewership in 2016 was in decline when reflecting over the entire season, despite the strong urge to point out Colin Kaepernick’s controversial national anthem kneeling as the catalyst.
And what about 2017? Well NFL ratings are still in decline without Kaepernick taking one step on the field. When it comes to protests, my initial feeling is similar to that of the support for Healthcare. Studies have proven that when you call healthcare by its official name (Affordable Care Act), the support from the average American jumps versus if you call it by its nickname (Obamacare). Similar to this, I believe most NFL fans cite protest for lack of interest when it has more to do with on the field issues. So what is the real reason behind the NFL’s recent drop? Well the truth is….no one is too sure.
While I won’t site other articles, I’ll simply tell my own story as to why my interest has declined:
To begin, I’ll point to the major reason I feel most people don’t watch the NFL as much as they used to…. Injuries. With players being faster, bigger, and stronger, this in turn has led to more injuries (IMO). This means that it has gotten increasingly harder to invest yourself into a player or players since there is a high probability they won’t make it through the season. With this point eliminated, it is now a requirement to be a fan of a team and not an individual as individuals may not be around as much.
The second point I think has helped in the drop in viewership is the long game management. Similar to baseball and its ridiculously long format, the new rules have caused a seemingly increase in penalties, and game stoppage due to replays. Unlike years past, I feel like every play is reviewed multiple times on end. In addition, there seems to be way more commercials than in years past as well. Sometimes I feel like only 10 – 20 seconds of football are played in between 5 minutes of commercials.
Lastly, in a more superficial light, the lack of personalities is telling. There is no Primetime or TO to tune in to each week for the latest antics. The No Fun League is just that, and even if you do get a Suh like personality, it is immediately fined so heavily the person’s personality becomes non existent. Sure you have great talents like a JJ Watt, but there is no person who makes you want to tune in just off of their personality and play alone (outside of maybe an Odell Beckham Jr, but his team sucks and he’s suffering from an injury).
The truth is, the NFL just isn’t as interesting to watch as it used to be. With the plentiful options out there and more ways to watch various properties the NFL just doesn’t look as interesting. Don’t get me wrong it is still the King of Sports in America, but then again so was Baseball…