2017 has been a pretty rough year for the NFL. From President Trump’s call to boycott the league over the National Anthem protests a few months back, to the the league’s senior vice president for health and safety policy finally admitting that there appears to be a link between CTE and football, the last thing the NFL needs is more bad news.
However, the L's keep rolling in for the league, as America’s interest appears to decline precipitously. There’s much debate as to why the viewership has slipped, from the protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick, to Trump’s tweetstorms, or that maybe people just aren’t watching that much TV anymore.
According to SportsBusiness Daily’s Austin Karp, NBC saw an average of about “18.2 million TV-only viewers” for this season’s Sunday Night Football package. Karp, who noticed that number is the network’s lowest figure since 2008, said Sunday Night Football still came out on top regarding primetime shows. He also pointed out that ESPN saw its lowest viewership on average for Monday Night Football since the network started broadcasting the games in 2006.
“ESPN also wrapped up 2017 averaging 10.8 million viewers for 'Monday Night Football,' which is the package's lowest figure on record,” Karp tweeted Thursday. “ESPN's previous low was 11.2 million in 2007.” Going strictly by the figures, ESPN has lost nearly 1 million viewers every single year since the beginning of the decade. This is obviously not a profitable trend. The sports cable network pays $2 billion a year to the NFL for the rights to Monday Night Football.