SANTA CLARA, CA – SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

NFL viewership was down eight percent in the 2016 regular season as compared to the previous year. A survey released by J.D. Power shows that the national anthem protests led by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick were the reasons why viewers were turned off from the NFL. Of those who said they watched less, 26% said the protests caused them to stop watching the NFL.

Another 24% said domestic violence issues or game delays were the reasons they tuned out.

Twenty percent cited too many commercials like the dreaded score-break-kickoff-break sequence something the league is addressing this season.

16% cited the 2016 Presidential election for their lower interest in professional football. Networks and sports leagues have cited heightened interest in politics last year as to why their ratings were down from the previous season.

Five percent said cutting the cord was why they were watching less.

But there’s a caveat with this poll. J.D. Power asked if people were watching more NFL games, just the same, or fewer. This is how they broke down:

Same — 62%
More — 27%
Less — 12%

Before election night in November, NFL viewership was down an alarming 14%, but had stabilized afterwards to just being down one percent.

However, the poll does confirm what some observers had stated about the national anthem protests – that they had turned some viewers off, but apparently not to the degree in which they were thinking.


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