The TV ratings for the NFL are down after two weeks of the regular season and if that was not sufficiently upsetting for the biggest driver of ratings on television, this latest slump comes following a 2016 NFL season marked by jerky ratings that had analysts and pundits scratching their collective heads.
Questions are now being asked as to whether it is time for the NFL and its partners in television to begin panicking again. However, most in the television industry and the league believe it is far too early for that.
A senior vice president with Magna, which monitors the trends of audiences, believes that Hurricane Irma had a big impact on NFL viewership during Week 1 of the regular season.
In addition, the Magna SVP said there was not a sufficient enough sample size of NFL games to make any true assessment of the viewership of the NFL after only two weeks and 31 games played.
However, the slump in ratings could be a sign there are disruptive trends in media on the horizon.
The Magna SVP added that in general the attention spans of people have changed. There is evidence people are intensely interested in less things and are generally interested in more, and that is due to the deluge in the amount of content people are exposed to in today’s tech driven society.
Sunday Night Football on NBC in Weeks 1 and 2 of the NFL regular season is down by 7% in overall viewership in comparison to 2016. At the same time, Monday Night Football on ESPN is down by 5% during the same period, and the averages for afternoon games on Sunday on CBS and Fox are down 19% and 11% respectively, showed data released by Nielsen.
In addition, CBS has not yet televised a national game at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday through two weeks and that time slot usually has the largest viewership on Sunday.
It is not out of the realm of possibilities that the NFL stages a huge ratings rally like it did in 2016 when the election was over and the playoffs were approaching.
Some of the marquee games performed better than last season, such as the opener on Sunday Night Football between the Giants and Cowboys, which enjoyed a ratings increase of 6% compared to the same game a year ago.
The ratings, even though they are down, are still close to the highest on television, and the league remains a highly valuable promotional platform for other shoes, said a television executive.