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NFL TV Ratings Down Roughly 10% From Last Season

06 January 2018

The NFL, which found itself at the center of political and medical discussions throughout 2017, saw its ratings drop by a larger percentage than they dropped in 2016, according to USA Today.

The average audience for a game was 14.9 million this season, down 9.7% compared with 16.5 million viewers for the 2016 regular season, according to Nielsen.

The NFL erosion was in line with USA prime time television ratings, which fell nine percent previous year.

NFL TV ratings are still high overall, however.

It's likely the decline in viewership will continue into the next regular season.

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But the top-rated USA show was NBC's Sunday Night Football at 18.2 million viewers, even though that was the show's lowest viewership figure since 2008. However, the figure is down from 20.3 million viewers in 2016 and 22.5 million in 2015.

The decline has been a topic of national discussion since Week 1 - with kneeling-player protests during the national anthem, poor play, concussion controversies and oversaturation of TV games among the most-cited causes for the fan revolt. Fox's Sunday package was down just 2 percent between weeks 11 and 17 of the season, after being down 8 percent in the weeks two through 10. President Donald Trump said in September that players who protest during the anthem should be "fired", comments that led to widespread protests in Week 3.

However, the National Football League has recently made an aggressive push to increase its digital presence, and will continue to do so to hedge against TV viewership losses moving forward.

Year-end data shows that only about 12 percent of cable subscribers had tuned in to Monday Night Football on the sports network and the broadcast hit an all-time low this year.

Fantasy football, and the residual popularity of NFL RedZone on NFL Network and DirecTV, has also helped dilute the ratings for Sunday afternoon games.

NFL TV Ratings Down Roughly 10% From Last Season