NFL Viewership Dramatically Reduced

Eric Reid, who plays for the San Francisco 49ers has refused to stand for the national anthem for the entire regular season.

Eric Reid, who plays for the San Francisco 49ers has refused to stand for the national anthem for the entire regular season.

By Free Radical

According to Nielsen, NFL ratings dropped by 9.7% during the regular season which ended on New Years Eve. On average, 14.9 million people watched a typical NFL game. While this may seem like a lot, during the 2016 season, the average was 16.5 million. And to make matters worse for the struggling league, viewership was already down by 8% during the 2016 season.

While most analysts accounted the 2016 decline to the presidential campaign, this year’s drop was blamed on controversy over the national anthem. Though former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend of not standing for the flag, dozens of other players staged their own symbolic protests. This included refusing to stand, raising a fist in the air, and refusing to enter the field while the anthem played, among other actions.

Many self-avowed patriots were offended by the protests and thus refused to watch. Yet there was also a substantial boycott by African-Americans who were incensed by how league owners blackballed Kaepernick.

Though Kaepernick remains unsigned, the protests led to a reported historic deal where the league has agreed to contribute roughly $89 million to social justice causes. Yet even this has also caused controversy. Whereas conservatives have seen the move as an unwarranted capitulation, many progressives have seen it as hush money to stop the protests and reverse the decline in viewership.

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