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Fans did not have a good response to the NFL season opener last night, and it’s showing in the ratings. This last ratings dip puts the NFL and NBC at a ten year low, with no signs of potential reversal.
The NFL, like other mayor sports leagues in the year 2020, has decided to take on a “woke” pro-social justice stance. The problem is that fans aren’t buying it and are voting with their feet en-masse.
In one of many unpopular moves, the NFL had previously decided to ditch live singing of the national anthem before games. Last night, they wound up including the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (informally recognized as the "black national anthem") after the traditional "Star Spangled Banner"
The few people that were allowed in the stadium due to the new safety protocols actually wound up booing as players from both teams linked arms as a sign of support for people fighting social injustice. They had asked for a "moment of silence" during the opening ceremony before kickoff.
Fans watching from their homes were also not happy with the overtly political tone of the game. One longtime NFL fan wrote on Facebook, complaining that he tuned in ten minutes late to avoid the opening ceremony, and they still “rammed it in” in the fourth quarter:
According to Outkick's Clay Travis, the NFL doesn’t have to look very far to find out why it’s fans are abandoning the league:
The contrast to the 2019 season couldn’t be more stark, according to Deadline. Last year, ratings were up in general throughout the season and fan engagement was high, reversing a multi-year previous trend where ratings had been slowly declining.
While it may be too soon to tell definitively, the current numbers which mark a ten year low in viewership is disheartening for the beleaguered NFL.