The NFL continues to be America’s pastime, but fewer people are passing the time watching NFL games.
According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily, Monday night’s Eagles-Bears snooze-fest generated an overnight rating of 8.3. That’s an 11-percent drop from last year’s Week Two Monday night matchup between the Jets and the Colts, and it’s also the lowest Week Two Monday Night Football rating “since at least ’09, and likely further back.”
The league has now seen an apple-to-apples ratings drop in each of the seven prime-time games this year. Next week, it may not get any better, with the Texans facing a Tom Brady-free Patriots team, Brian Hoyer and the Bears facing Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, and a Falcons-Saints Monday night contest that goes up against the first presidential debate.
Typically, ratings expectations have been linked to the size of a fan base. With the numbers sagging in 2016, some have argued that the games lack star players, specifically at the quarterback position.
If that’s the case, the NFL has no one to blame but itself for: (1) suspending Brady four games for an equipment violation; and (2) scheduling two Patriots games in prime time during the first four weeks of the season.
Meanwhile, some have asked why PFT keeps pointing out that the ratings are down, given that PFT has a vested interest in the ongoing success of the NFL. Apart from being committed to always telling the truth even when the truth hurts, it’s important to spot troubling trends early and address them quickly in lieu of sitting back and making excuses for a dip in the metrics that determine the success of any business. Whatever the reason(s) for the decline in viewership, the NFL needs to be worried about it -- and it needs to be taking action to turn it around instead of waiting for evidence that will suggest it’s not an aberration.