More than half of Americans who were surveyed by Rasmussen Reports said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest along with other similar demonstrations intent on bringing awareness to social issues have “no impact” on their decision to tune into an NFL broadcast this season.
However, 32 percent indicated they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the protests, which the surveyors attributed to the Black Lives Matter movement.
College and high school players – including at Dunbar last weekend – have also joined in the protests during the first month of the season.
Although the effect in the survey is a net negative, some respondents said the protests have made them more likely to watch – 13 percent, including 28 percent of blacks and eight percent of whites.
At this point, it is probably too early to declare any sort of ratings crisis for the league, which has enjoyed mammoth popularity for decades and generally draws far more viewers than any other sport, but facts are facts: Sports Media Watch notes 21 of 26 NFL telecast have seen a decline in ratings so far this year.
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A Fox Sports executive told Sports Business Journal he saw similar effects during the tightly contest 2000 election, too, and pointed out ratings for cable news are up.
There is good reason to think Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s battle this summer and fall could be playing a large role, especially considering one of the five Monday Night Football games went head-to-head with the highly anticipated first debate between the candidates.
There’s also the reality four weeks represents a small sample size, and one that has included some terrible games at that.
So this could all turn out to be much ado about nothing, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as the days get shorter and the election draws (perhaps mercifully to many) to a close.