The NFL’s partner TV networks are now refusing to show any kneeling protests at all during the national anthem, as viewership declined steadily this season.
As Sporting News points out, just three weeks ago the major TV networks refused to show angry fans booing the protesting players. But now the networks are refusing to show any part of the protests.
The decision came in week 6, as networks showed virtually no live shots of NFL players sitting, kneeling or standing last Sunday, Oct. 15, during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Footage of fans booing players was also not shown.
Instead, CBS, Fox, and NBC decided to stay in commercial breaks during the pregame presentation of the American flag and anthem. Even when they returned from commercials, network play-by-play announcers and analysts paid little attention to what the players had done on the field, Sporting News reported.
ESPN also chose not to show the anthem protests on Monday night football.
Television ratings were not the only to decline, week 6 stadium audiences also fell as photos surfaced.
— Bradley Wilson (@brad_gohornsbkw) October 15, 2017
Traditionally, TV networks don’t show the anthem anyway, except before the Super Bowl and other special occasions. But because of the national interest in which players were standing and which were kneeling, the networks at the time changed their policies.
According to Sporting News, NBC’s first TV show of the 2017 season showed cornerback Marcus Peters sitting out the anthem before the Chiefs-Patriots Week 1 season opener. ESPN also showed player protests in weeks 3 and 4. While all of the NFL’s TV partners showed the anthem live in Week 3 when nearly 200 players, coaches, and owners knelt or linked arms on the field.
The kneeling during the anthem started as a protest against police brutality of minorities.
Yesterday’s viewership for Monday Night Football fell to a season low, as the Tennessee Titans finally snapped their streak of 11 consecutive losses to the Indianapolis Colts.
The primetime broadcast of the Titans’ 36-22 victory stumbled to 6.1 in metered-market results, according to Deadline.
Additionally, the week 6 ratings were down 13 percent from the previous Oct. 9 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
Yesterday’s season low delivered a 3.7 rating among adults between 18-49 and a total viewership of 10.3 million. It’s worth noting that the peak of last week’s Monday Night Football came at halftime when the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer debuted, according to Deadline.