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NFL Ratings Fall at Faster Pace

NFL Ratings Fall at Faster Pace

The NFL finished the regular season with TV ratings that fell almost 10 percent below the previous season because of changing viewing habits, controversies facing the league and a possible saturation point in the number of games available.

The ratings slide bulit on an 8 percent drop from the prior season, which had been partially attributed to the hectic 2016 presidential election, the network added. Its 18.2 million viewers beat the second-best prime-time show, Thursday Night Football on CBS, by 29 percent - its largest margin ever.

Fans being upset with player protests during the national anthem may have an impact. "That's a pretty meaningful drop", he said. But the acceleration of ratings declines in the most recent season signals that viewership didn't merely temporarily dip, and could mark the beginning of an ongoing trend. Over at CBS, 15.7 million viewers indicated an 11 percent drop from 2016 and a 9 percent decline was felt at Fox with an average of 17.7 million viewers. Fox was down 22 percent in the season's first week, when a hurricane hit Florida. Both NBC and ESPN had the most-watched shows every single week, in terms of audience and in all key male demographics, for Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football games this season.

However, the National Football League has recently made an aggressive push to increase its digital presence, and will continue to do so to hedge against TV viewership losses moving forward. Less cable subscriptions means less viewership, generally.

Injuries were also a factor, as three of the league's most dynamic stars - Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Odell Beckham of the New York Giants - were sidelined for most of the season.

Fantasy football, and the residual popularity of NFL RedZone on NFL Network and DirecTV, has also helped dilute the ratings for Sunday afternoon games.

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