By Conor Orr
Around The NFL Writer
Published: Oct. 19, 2016 at 03:46 p.m.
Updated: Oct. 20, 2016 at 04:26 p.m.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed for the first time Wednesday a recent Wall Street Journal report that detailed a dip in television ratings over the first few weeks of the 2016 regular season.
While he mentioned various pitfalls, such as the monumental ratings drummed up amid the 2016 general election, he said that the NFL does not want to make excuses.
“It’s something that I don’t think there’s a single reason for. I really don’t. We look at all those factors,” Goodell said at the Fall League Meeting in Houston. “Everyone’s got theories, you guys got theories, others got theories. We work closely with our network partners. We see tremendous strength in our numbers. But we also know that the prime time ratings we’re seeing the most dramatic decrease. It went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our prime time games on Thursday night was on the NFL Network, as opposed to a network, which will always get a lower rating. There are a lot of factors to be considered.
“We don’t make excuses, we look at it and we try and figure out what’s changing. I think you’re touching at a point that I think is significant, which is consumer changes and their behavior, and the way they consume media. That’s something we’ve been focused on for several years. It’s why we’ve been doing more with with Snapchat and YouTube and others. And it’s why we did our work with Yahoo last year. … We’re seeing these changes. We recognize that network television is still dominant, and we believe it’s going to be dominant going forward. It’s where the vast majority of our fans view our games. It’s a great experience. The advertising markets are incredibly strong. I think our ratings are something that we’ll continue to look at and trying to make sure we’re doing everything, not just to get them to tune in but to get them to stay tuned in. That’s the issue, that’s what we’ve worked on.
Fans watching fewer NFL games cite protests as primary reason
Ratings in the NFL, while still stronger than any other challenger on the television landscape, continue to decline, and a new survey by Yahoo Sports and YouGov discerns several reasons why.
In a survey of 1,136 Americans who identified themselves as NFL fans, 29 percent said they are watching fewer NFL games. (Interestingly, 27 percent said they were watching more, though that does not necessarily correlate only a 2 percent net loss.) The fans claiming they watch less of the NFL cited the following reasons: