It appears the year-long protest of the NFL made also made an impact on Sunday night’s Super Bowl ratings.
While ratings for the NFL have been dropping all year, culminated by Sunday the Super Bowl, ratings have now hit an eight-year low.
The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Nielsen ratings for Super Bowl LII were at a 47.4 overnight rating. For comparison, last year’s overnight numbers were 48.8.
It’s still not too much of a dropoff when you take into account the fact that the regular season had a dropoff of 9.7 percent. But still, it’s the lowest numbers since 2010’s Super Bowl featuring the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. 2010 saw an overnight rating of 46.4.
The NFL blames the protests
The league believes that the #TakeAKnee protests are to blame.
In October, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said that the NFL was taking a hit because of the players’ decisions.
“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Jones said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Jones also stated that NFL sponsors had expressed “concerns” about the protests and added that it would be hard to have a visible protest if people are tuning out.
“[O]ur ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch games,” Jones said. “At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing and that’s playing football.”
“If all this makes you stronger to represent messages, let’s don’t do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL,” he added.
And then at the end of November, the NFL tried to get the protests to stop by pledging money.
The organization reportedly agreed to give nearly $100 million over the next seven years to social justice causes.
The deal was reached between the NFL and a coalition of about 40 players concerning causes that are important to the Black community, such as criminal justice reform and police reform.
The language in the agreement does not call on the players to stop their national anthem protests in return for the donations, though the NFL hopes that by acknowledging the protests’ root causes and taking action, they will be able to put an end to those protests.
But so long as these inequalities exist and so long as the league continues to blackball Colin Kaepernick, their problem isn’t just with people who are upset about the protests. They also have a real problem with people boycotting the league for their handling of the protests in the first place.
With Donald Trump continuing his war on athletes who protest during the national anthem, this isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.