As declining NFL TV ratings continue to be a trending topic, the league has sent a memo to all 32 teams trying to calm their fears over the situation. In fact, even though live TV viewership continues to dramatically decline, the NFL continues to dominate the broadcast landscape.
In a nutshell, that was the message sent by the league office to teams that are stressing over reduced ratings.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported that Brian Rolapp, who runs the NFL’s media operations, sent a memo to all teams on September 25. The memo tried to reduce teams’ anxiety about an early-season drop in viewership.
“The 2020 presidential election and other national news events are driving substantial consumption of cable news, taking meaningful share of audience from all other programming,” wrote Rolapp in the memo. “Historically, NFL viewership has declined in each of the past six presidential elections.”
During the 2016 election, NFL ratings fell dramatically when they declined 14 percent. However, once the election had passed, the ratings evened out in comparison to the previous year.
Other Factors to Consider in the Decline of NFL Ratings
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic this year has also been a factor. The NBA and NHL both delayed their seasons into September, which is unprecedented. This also created more competition for the NFL that it usually does not have at this time of year.
“The pandemic has caused several major sports to postpone their schedules, resulting in an unprecedented fall calendar,” Rolapp continued. “The result is a crowded content marketplace driving a bifurcation of sports viewers across multiple events.”
Long gone are the days of only three or four television channels as options. Today, the entire world watches television on-demand, whenever and wherever they want. While that reduces the numbers for all television content (except cable news), it highlights the value of broadcasts that can pull in a large, live audience.
The NFL continues to be the one TV program that still has a consistently huge, live audience. Rolapp’s message in his memo to NFL teams basically told them not to panic. Through two weeks the TV ratings dropped six percent, but relative to all other broadcasts, they are doing just fine.