NFL viewership is undeniably down.
Concussions, poor officiating, and most notably the anti-American anthem protests have driven fans away.
Now the latest data suggests the NFL’s problem is worse than expected.
The divisive anthem protests turned off a large swath of fans among older viewers, but younger viewers are turning away from the NFL too.
A couple weeks ago, we learned that the NFL is increasingly unpopular amongst older viewers. Fast-forward a couple weeks, and we learn that younger viewers don’t particularly care for the league either.
The Public Religion Research Institute recently released the findings of a poll which analyzed fan interest in football across different age groups. The results of that poll, will not sit well with the NFL.
Writing in The Big Lead, Jason Lisk described the poll results: “According to the poll, only 22% of those aged 18-29 say they are likely to watch the NFL on Sundays (10% who say they are likely to both watch football and go to church, 12% who say they watch football only). That’s nearly half of the total for those age 30-49, where 41% say they are likely to be watching football on Sundays.”
but the data supports both the Netflix and videogame factors (note this doesn't include games played on phones and other non-consoles): pic.twitter.com/eCoOAhJcWt
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) January 18, 2018
Streaming services and video games have played a major role in the dwindling number of young viewers. It seems that with more and more young people not watching network television, the younger audiences simply aren’t there to watch football games when they come on.
Nor is that all the bad news for the league. Of additional concern, is the data which suggests that the concussion issue is causing serious demographic erosion in the NFL’s viewer base.
According to the poll:
“White Americans are significantly more likely than nonwhite Americans to say that they would not allow their young son to play competitive football. Nearly one-third (32%) of white Americans say they would not allow it, compared to 22% of black and 13% of Hispanic Americans.
Among white Americans, willingness to let their son play football differs substantially by education level and party. Whites with a college degree are much more likely than those without a college degree to say they would not allow their son to play football (41% vs. 27%, respectively). Although there are no differences in the likelihood of Democrats and Republicans overall to prohibit their son from playing competitive football (31% vs. 30%, respectively), nearly half (48%) of white Democrats say they would not it, while only 31% of white Republicans say the same.”
And of course, if those large swaths of the viewing public aren’t going to let their children play football, the chances that they’re going to encourage them to watch it are remote. That factor obviously does not bode well for the NFL going forward. Remember that the next time Roger Goodell tells you that despite poor ratings, the NFL is still the most watched event on television.
For a league that has aspirations of expanding internationally, the decline in interest among the young is an irreconcilable problem for the NFL.
Until the league substantially addresses its concussion problem and its politicization problem, the slow descent will continue.