Ratings for the 2020 NFL season haven’t been as strong as the league had hoped compared to last year.
But the league reportedly sent out a memo to all 32 teams with a simple message: Do not panic.
According to a report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), NFL Chief Media and Business Officer Brian Rolapp submitted a memo to the 32 clubs with the intention of easing their concerns over the ratings, citing the upcoming U.S. 2020 presidential election.
“The 2020 presidential election and other national news events are driving substantial consumption of cable news, taking meaningful share of audience from all other programming,” Rolapp said in the memo, according to Ourand. “Historically, NFL viewership has declined in each of the past six presidential elections.”
In the memo, Rolapp also pointed out that “the (COVID-19) pandemic has caused several major sports to postpone their schedules, resulting in an unprecedented fall calendar,” according to Ourand.
The NFL has already had to shake up its schedule on two occasions. Last week, the Tennessee Titans experienced a coronavirus outbreak, and their Week 4 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was moved to Week 7. Week 4 was officially designated as their “bye” weeks.
The Steelers were scheduled to play the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, but that game has been rescheduled for Week 8, with Week 7 now becoming the Ravens’ bye.
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The NHL and NBA had to postpone their seasons in mid-March, and they didn’t return to action for nearly five full months. The 2019-20 NHL season concluded last Monday when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup, and the NBA Finals is still ongoing, with the Los Angeles Lakers holding a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat.
So Rolapp makes several key points here. The election, of course, is going to take center stage. And the NHL and NBA playoffs have surely played a factor in the NFL’s declining viewership thus far.
Ratings have still been strong overall for the NFL. Their Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football programs on NBC and ESPN, respectively, are consistently reaching over 10 million viewers.
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