National Football League executives looking to stop a ratings skid continued to lose more yardage during the 2016-2017 season, as television viewership fell 9.7 percent across all networks, according to Nielsen data.
An average NFL game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people compared to last year, declining overall from 16.5 million to 14.9 million, ESPN reported.
The ratings slide bulit on an 8 percent drop from the prior season, which had been partially attributed to the hectic 2016 presidential election, the network added.
This year the NFL has been battling public criticism – most notably from President Trump – due to players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. The protests began as a way to show displeasure with a country that “oppresses black people and people of color,” according to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement but was not signed by a team this season.
Numbers for the 2017 season fell despite the league trying to speed up the game and tweaking the format for television commercial breaks, ESPN reported. Another factor brought up that could be attributed to the ratings decline is the NFL RedZone network, which offers roving coverage of Sunday afternoon kickoffs and only shows fans footage of games when teams are in scoring positions.
Despite the drop, 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows on television last year were football games, according to the Nielsen data.
But the drop also appears to be a slam dunk for the NBA, which has seen a 20 percent jump in viewership so far this season, according to ESPN.