NFL television ratings have decreased during the first half of the 2016 season.
Nielsen television ratings have shown nearly a 10 percent loss in viewers over the first quarter of this year’s NFL season compared to previous years.
Some have chalked up the decrease in football ratings to the presidential election, where marginal sports fans have sacrificed watching NFL games to tune in to the pre-election theatrics.
One Seton Hall University poll even ridiculously suggested that players protesting the national anthem has driven fans away from the league.
The anthem is never televised, save for major exceptions like the Super Bowl.
Thus it cannot be the only factor that is driving away one-tenth of the league’s viewers.
The league’s ratings are suffering this year because the level of play is poor, the NFL is struggling to find marketable star players and because the NFL has rules in place to make the game less enjoyable to players and fans.
Notable players such as Peyton Manning have retired, and there are no young stars in the league who are as marketable to non-sports fanatics.
Some companies are even turning to retired NFL players to market their products because of the lack of young star players in the league today.
One of these young stars, Houston defensive tackle JJ Watt, was injured early in the season, which will force him to miss the remainder of the 2016 season.
Watt is one of the only players of note on the Houston Texans, and his injury makes it harder for the organization and the league to market the team.
The best teams in the NFL have all had to overcome injuries or suspensions to star players.
While teams are able to adjust and adapt, losing these players has done more damage to the league and their ratings.
The New England Patriots overcame Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in the beginning of the season, as they were able to win games with a cycle of young, relatively obscure quarterbacks.
The Minnesota Vikings were the last undefeated team in the NFL, even after they lost former MVP running back Adrian Peterson and franchise quarter-back Teddy Bridgewater.
Both of these players suffered season ending injuries before the end of September.
The Dallas Cowboys have won six straight games led by their backup quarterback Dak Prescott, who replaced often-injured quarterback Tony Romo.
These teams are overcoming the absences of star players and winning on the field.
However, the NFL has not recovered like these teams have. It is hard to generate interest in your league if your most notable players aren’t on the field.
It could also be argued that interest in the NFL is down this year because of the NFL’s awful public image.
There was controversy early in the season when New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for only one game for a domestic violence incident.
League rules mandate a six-game suspension for a first offense, which led many to ask why Brown got off easily.
The league has also come under scrutiny for asinine rules violations, such as giving out large fines for uniform violations — like wearing a custom pair of cleats — and for penalizing players for celebrating after a big play is over.
The NFL can’t afford to keep up these policies unless they want to continue to drive fans away.