Major television networks — like ESPN and CBS — are starting to feel the financial pain caused by the nationwide boycott of the NFL season. Ratings are way down, and networks are trying to do everything they can to stop fans from flipping the channel. But the stunt they tried to pull during the most recent week of games is backfiring on them BIG TIME.
Michael McCarthy of SportingNews called out the Big 3 networks for refusing to show the National Anthem being played before the games at all. By refusing to show the Anthem, they aren’t forced to show the protests — and they hope that if fan’s don’t see players disrespecting the flag they’ll stay tuned-in.
“Protests? What protests?
There were virtually no live shots of NFL players sitting, kneeling or standing Sunday during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” much less footage of fans booing players.
Instead, CBS, Fox and NBC chose to stay in commercial breaks during the pregame presentation of the flag and anthem. Once they returned from commercial, network play-by-play announcers and analysts paid little or no attention to what players did on the field.
ESPN planned to follow a similar playbook for Monday night’s telecast of Colts-Titans, sources say.
The TV networks traditionally don’t show the anthem except before the Super Bowl and other special occasions. But given news interest about which players were standing and which were kneeling, the networks changed their policies this season.”
This stunt seems to have backfired on the networks big time, as fans say it’s a cop-out and won’t change their season-long boycott.
Through Week 5, the NFL TV numbers were down 7.2 percent, according to Nielsen data. That drop came on top of a 7 percent downturn last season. Through Week 5 of the 2017 season, NFL games averaged 15.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s down 7.42 percent from an average of 16.371 million viewers through the same period of the 2016 season, and 18 percent down from the average of 18.438 million viewers through the first five weeks of the 2015 season.