Through Week 6, NFL ratings are down from last season by 6%. Most of the decline is due to lower viewership in the Sunday afternoon windows. One prime example was Pittsburgh-Kansas City on CBS last Sunday, which was 26% off from the same timeslot on Fox in 2016.

Media analyst Alexia Quadrani noted that NFL’s ratings have been down in five of the six weeks, and that viewership is down six percent thus far on top of a 12% drop last year through Week 6.

Quadrani gave some possible reasons as to why the ratings are down:

“Theories, theories, and theories: Chris Simms of NBC Sports Network says the league has made it too easy for young fans to stream condensed versions of games. Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk claims the NFL focused too much on growing the sport outside the U.S. USA Today noted that significant injuries (Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham, Julian Edelman) are probably not helping ratings. Forbes meanwhile attributes some of the softness in viewership to the National Anthem protests. We note that in Week 6, most NFL broadcasts did not show the anthem, instead moving to commercial breaks.”

The ratings downturn is now concerning Wall Street analysts to the point where they’re lowering their profit forecasts for the networks. Credit Suisse reduced its earning per share forecasts for 21 Century Fox due to Fox’s lower NFL ratings, and it also lowered its CBS third-quarter estimates by five-percent.

The NFL has been battling news about concussions, kneeling during the anthem, and President Donald Trump’s negative tweets about the league. In the second half of last season, ratings did improve, but for now, it appears the NFL and its TV partners have a ratings problem.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • Deon Hamner

    over saturation… OTA and Training Camps being less physical. All play a part

  • Tigercat919

    Maybe it’s changes in the general population. It is especially tough to attract young fans these days, what with so many of them being more interested in esports. You’d be amazed at how popular esports are; the IOC is actually thinking about making it an Olympic sport.

  • Bill Nee

    idiots…you really are blind!!! The flag is yellow by the end of nfl games!

  • Son of Rusty Shackleford

    The only person wondering why No Fans Left ratings are down is Ken Fang; everyone else who’s been paying attention the last 14 months knows exactly why.

  • sportsfan365

    Perhaps it is the changing demographics of the US as a whole. Latin Americans and Middle Eastern folks play football with a round black and white ball.

    • JSpicoli

      In other news it was commonly said that Hillbot was a 96% lock.

      Stay in your echo chamber. We are winning elections and putting the establishment out. Both sides of the swamp need to go. The wheels of justice turn slowly. Hillary is going to jail.

  • Karl Kolchak

    Because the games suck. That’s why I gave up my season tickets and have even stopped watching on television.

  • RadioGuy

    The protests don’t bother me (some of the concerns are legit), but I guarantee there are a LOT of people ticked off by them. Couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that’s why they’re not watching. Spin and equivocate all you want, but that’s easily the biggest reason folks are tuning out.

  • bralinshan

    Ken Fang is an award winning reporter LOL…and he’s honestly wondering in this climate why ratings are down.
    You can’t fix ignorance.

  • JSpicoli

    As if not showing the traitors or the anthem changes how Americans feel.

    It is patently obvious what has broken the camel’s back.

  • Carter_Burger67

    It started when the league started penalizing emotion. Add to that a sub par product on the field mix in players clueless as to who their fans are. yea, I’ll take NCAA football over the garbage that’s the NFL any day. Haven’t watched a game this season, and not misisng it, either.

  • MrNewCastrati

    Just keep kidding yourself, Fang.