Boycott? NFL viewership down 7.5% since last year

Good lord, it’s a rout on every front. Ratings are down. Stadiums are littered with empty seats. Teams are apologizing to the military. Broadcast networks are facing a hit to earnings due to smaller viewership during games.

All that’s left now is for Trump to display Roger Goodell’s balls in a glass jar on his desk.

Once Jeff Sessions finally gets fired, maybe new Attorney General Roy Moore will put a cherry on top of the sundae by indicting Kaepernick for disrespect.

Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, total viewership of games is down 7.5 percent, compared with the first six weeks of 2016.

An average of 15 million people watched games for the first six weeks this year, compared with 16.2 million people through Week 6 last season, according to metrics from Nielsen…

Compared with the first six weeks of the 2015 season, NFL ratings are off 18.7 percent — a sharp drop, but a smaller decline when considering the general overall fall in television viewership due to people dropping their cable packages.

Proof positive of a boycott, no? Pretty strong evidence, yeah, but ESPN notes that NFL viewership was also down eight percent between 2015 and 2016, long before Trump pushed the protests front and center in American politics. Seems highly likely there’s a “Trump effect” *and* a more general cord-cutting/audience-splintering effect that are combining to drive ratings down. The only question is how much each factor is contributing relative to the other.

The league met yesterday with the players’ union in hopes of getting them to “voluntarily” end the protests. Roger Goodell and the owners are in a bind, wanting the protests to stop to placate Republican fans but not wanting to be heavy-handed by shutting them down lest it alienate Democratic ones, especially since that’ll look like they’re doing Trump’s bidding. The solution is to try to buy the players off by supporting activism off the field: Two days ago the NFL endorsed a criminal-justice reform bill supported by many on the left (and some on the right). Didn’t work, though. Yesterday’s meeting ended with no resolution, setting up Trump for this political chip-shot field goal:

Speaking of doing Trump’s bidding, increasingly it looks like Kaepernick’s collusion claim will focus on the relationship between NFL owners and Trump himself. Kaepernick’s attorney “predicted” last night on CNN that they’d produce a “smoking gun” that confirms collusion; communications with and about Trump among the owners could be key to that.

Here’s Goodell telling reporters it sure would be nice if these protests ended.