Skip to main content

Traina Thoughts: NFL Ratings Decline Seems Like Nothing Compared to the Rest of Television

The slight decline in NFL ratings this season could be much worse.

1. NFL ratings continue to be a story, with people spinning the figures in many ways. People who are angry about players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest inequality and social injustice, of course, point to that as the reason. Other people are upset Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed from the NFL and have said they're not watching the games. James Murdoch, the 21st Century FOX CEO, said this week there are too many broadcast windows, and specifically referenced the Thursday night package.

Now we have another new twist on what the numbers mean. Before we get to that, let me layout the numbers for you. Despite some people who just flippantly say "the NFL ratings are terrible," the fact is that the league's ratings are down five percent from 2016. NFL games have averaged 15.1 million viewers through Week 7 this season. Last year at this same time, the games aveaged 15.87 ​million viewers.

So, what should we make of that decline? According to this interesting story by CNN Money, the NFL ratings drop is nothing compared to what's going on with the rest of television. From CNN Money:

Through week seven, the NFL is down 5% overall from the same point last year. That's a troubling drop for the biggest ratings powerhouse on TV, but it seems less dire when you consider that the four major networks are down an average 8% in prime time.

NBC is down 4%, CBS is down 6%, ABC is down 11%, and Fox's prime time viewership dropped 20% through the first month of the new TV season, according to Nielsen data. And those numbers are down despite the inclusion of live sporting events, which usually bring in big audiences.

Before the NFL season, I was asked on the SportsTVRatings podcast if I thought the NFL ratings would be up or down in 2017. I said they'd be down for the simple reason that people are watching TV differently now and cord cutting is a major issue for all broadcast entities. 

Ultimately, the reason for the NFL ratings decline is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There isn't one factor, there are many. But the way people consume television these days combined with the NFL constantly adding new windows, such as Thursday night and Sunday mornings, may be The Shield's biggest issue.

2. The author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, Jim Miller, joined me on the newest episode of Off The Board. Jim has many sources deep within ESPN and he shared many details on the ESPN-Barstool relationship and why network President John Skipper decided to pull the plug on Barstool Van Talk after just one episode. The show also features my thoughts on the Yankees not retaining manager Joe Girardi and NFL Week 8 picks. You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

3. More proof Tony Romo is the best NFL analyst on TV: His breakdown of a cat getting on the field during last night's Dolphins-Ravens game.

And his enthusiasm when Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosely pulled off a Pick-6.

4. has posted odds for the new Yankees manager. As a die-hard Yankees fan, the last two names on his list make me physically ill.

Odds to be Next Yankees Manager

Rob Thomson +500

Al Pedrique +550

Joe Espada +600

Tony Pena +750

Kevin Long +800

Trey Hillman +850

Willie Randolph +1000

Pete Mackanin +1000

Larry Rothschild +1000

Raul Ibanez +1100

Don Mattingly +1200

Josh Paul +1400

Tim Naehring +1500

Jay Bell +1600

Dusty Baker +2500

Jason Giambi +3500

Alex Rodriguez +10000

David Ortiz +50000

5. Aaron Rogers gave Conan O'Brien the inside scoop on what happened when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr broke his collarbone, and it involves a middle finger and the DX "suck it" sign.

6. Bulls center Robin Lopez is all of us.

7. Jordan Spieth has won three majors and is a former No. 1 golfer in the world. However, he recently got beat on the course by Barack Obama.

8. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: I'm in the middle of the Randy Savage episode of Something To Wrestle With. I did not know that during the famous angle where Savage turned heel and attacked Hogan for "having lust in his eyes" for Elizabeth that there was a botch on the live telecast. As you'll see eight seconds in, Brutus Beefcake messes up his cue and enters the scene too early, only to later return.

The best of the Internet, plus musings by writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

BONUS ITEM: Vikings -9.5 vs. the Browns Sunday morning from London is the lock of the NFL season.