Total viewership during the first six weeks of the NFL season is down 7.5 percent compared to the first six weeks of last year’s season, reports ESPN.
Last year, an average of 16.2 million people watched games during the first six weeks. This year, only an average of 15 million people watched games for the same time frame, according to new metrics from Nielsen and reported by ESPN.
The NFL did not respond to ESPN’s request for comment.
According to ESPN, Credit Suisse lowered its price targets on both Fox and CBS stock because of NFL rating declines.
“If ratings don’t improve materially, we see a potential headwind to domestic advertising revenues,” the investment bank’s analyst Omar Sheikh wrote of Fox last week, according to ESPN.
Sheikh estimated on Monday that third-quarter revenue would be off by three percent for CBS, versus the previously projected one percent. This is because of “soft ratings for both the summer programming and for the start of the NFL season.”
ESPN’s Monday Night Football viewership is averaging 11.2 million viewers, which is a six percent increase through Week 6 compared to last year.
However, compared to the first six weeks of the 2015 season, NFL ratings are off 18.7 percent according to ESPN, though it a smaller decline when considering the general overall fall in television viewership, ESPN writes.
Last year, the NFL claimed that the viewership decline was due in part to competition with the presidential election coverage. ESPN reports that viewership was better for the second half of the season, though it still finished down eight percent compared to 2015.
This season, the fight between President Donald Trump and the widespread player protests during the national anthem could be adding to viewership numbers, ESPN reports.
The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
On Tuesday in New York, players and owners met to discuss how to work together to fight against social injustice. There will be further conversations on the matter, ESPN reports, but no immediate resolution was made.