What It Means That We Aren’t Watching Football Like We Used To
Fans are finding new ways to watch the games, while some are turning away from the sport altogether.
Watching football just isn’t what it used to be. Millennials, or cord cutters, are turning away from the traditional broadcast way of watching their team, and heading instead to streaming the live games online, or mooching off someone else’s log-in. On-demand platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are all pulling viewers away from wanting or needing cable, and since there are so many other ways to watch NFL games, network viewership is suffering. According to Nielsen, Week 15 NFL ratings this season are down eight percent from 2016, with an average of 15 million viewers each week, compared to 16.3 million viewers at this time in 2016. Last year, the NFL could blame presidential debates and the election for the drop in ratings, but this year, the ratings haven’t bounced back. To combat this, the NFL has tested out new platforms to try to adapt to changing viewing habits. The league streams on Yahoo, Twitter and Amazon Prime, and just signed a five-year deal with Verizon that will provide anyone free mobile and tablet streams of in-market games, as well as the playoffs and the Super Bow via the NFL mobile app. Having a subscription to watch every NFL game is expensive (DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket costs $281 per season and only airs out-of-market games). Free illegal streams that can easily be found on Reddit are the best and cheapest way to watch every game, even if the feed isn’t great. If the NFL wants to get their viewership back up, they seriously need to address the millennial age demographic. But there are other factors: the unusually high number of injuries to star players, the player demonstrations during the national anthem, or the three-or-more hours you have to dedicate to a game.
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