A new poll reveals the NFL is struggling to deal with the controversy surrounding their players taking a knee in protest during the national anthem.
The exclusive Yahoo Finance poll shows that a majority of NFL fans plan to watch less professional football in what appears to be a direct response to the anthem controversy.
Nearly 62 percent of 9,056 respondents said they would watch less in the future and 36 percent said they plan to buy less NFL merchandise, while 32 percent have chosen not to attend a game they would have otherwise gone to.
The findings reveal a likely financial hit for the NFL.
The poll, conducted online via SurveyMonkey from Sept. 28-29 asked people who are fans of NFL, excluding people who have an opinion, but don’t watch football. Hence, the poll only counted answers from people who describe themselves as pro football fans.
Of respondents, 84 percent said they watch at least one game per week—out of that number 46 percent said they watched more than two games per week, according to the poll.
The full survey results can be found here.
The poll reinforces that fans want football to remain just football as more and more get turned off by the increased political element of the games.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests last year when he kneeled during the anthem to protest “police brutality” and “racial injustice.”
Ticket sales for NFL games plummeted 18 percent this week compared to last week, according to online ticket reseller TickPick, via the Washington Examiner. This happened right after the largest spate of protests in response to President Donald Trump slamming players’ disrespecting the American flag and national anthem. The drop is significantly larger than usual for the time period. Last year sales dropped 11 percent from the second to third week.
“We have seen a massive decrease in NFL ticket purchases this past week in comparison to years past,” said Jack Slingland with TickPick. “Week 3 seems to usually have less [sic] ticket orders than week 2, but this year ticket purchases are down more than 7 percent from this time last year.”
The decline in ticket sales was accompanied by a decline in television viewership ratings. NFL ratings were down 11 percent at the three-week mark compared to the same time last year. That trend is a continuation of a yearlong slide that started last year, with ratings falling 8 percent compared to 2015.
Slingard didn’t go as far as to guess the reason for the drop in ticket sales, but noted that the national conversation this week has focused on the players’ protests of the national anthem.
“While we can’t specify if this decrease is due to the president’s comments, player and owner protests, play on the field, or simply the continued division of consumer’s media attention, the conversation around the NFL this week has focused on the president’s comments as well as the players’ and owners’ reaction,” Slingard said.
“As viewers continue to abandon their NFL Sunday habits, both the number of ticket sales and the purchase price of tickets will drop,” he added.
However, the NFL may already have caught on.
— JamesRoy (@JamesRoy) October 1, 2017