Television ratings of National Football League games were down through the first three weeks of the season, driven largely by Republican and independent affiliated voters, the media measurement and analytics company Comscore reported.
Overall, ratings of NFL games were down about 5% from the same weeks last season. While the viewing habits of Democrats remained largely steady, the same could not be said for Republicans, independents and unregistered voters.
“Looking at Republican voters, Comscore saw an 11% decline in Week 1; a 17% decline in Week 2; and an 8% decline in Week 3 when comparing year-over-year,” the company said in a press release as quoted by Nexstar Media Group. The NFL season began Sept. 10.
Similarly, 9% of independents and 10% of unregistered voters also tuned out.
Democrat households watched 1% more in week one, 4% less in week two and 1% more in week three, Comscore said according to Houston ABC affiliate KTRK.
“These significant viewership changes reinforce the importance of having advanced audience information because media buyers and sellers have to adapt quickly when cultural forces reshape consumer behavior,” Comscore Chief Revenue Officer Carol Hinnant said.
Comscore did not suggest a reason for the ratings drop, but it comes in a season when the NFL announced it would embrace Black Lives Matter protests, painting related phrases in the end zones, allowing players and coaches to display political messages on helmets and caps, and play the “Black national anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before every game during the first week of the season.
All major pro sports leagues have taken similar stances. The National Basketball Association has experienced more dramatic ratings declines with the first three of games of the NBA Finals setting records for the lowest ratings in the championship series’ history.
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