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Cold Takes: Giants

by M.G. Siegler

Ratings Fumble for NFL Surprises Networks, Advertisers

www.wsj.com

Joe Flint:

Combined, ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS are spending an average of $5 billion a year for football rights through 2021. The games not only score big ratings and ad sales, but are crucial platforms to promote other programming.
This season, network viewership is down about 10% from last season, according to Nielsen data, with steeper declines for prime-time games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. The drop has caught advertisers and rights holders off guard and left them scrambling to find a cause.

They're suggesting the election (and its subsequent coverage) may be at play. I'm not so sure this isn't the start of a trend for the NFL. And, most troubling (for them), I don't think you can chalk it up to just one thing. It's the cord-cutters plus the cord-nevers plus the brain injuries plus the rise of other sports amongst young fans (including e-sports) and undoubtedly many other factors. 

And notably, ESPN getting hit the hardest, it seems (down 24% among men aged 18 to 34 years old). Which is problematic for them, to say the least. 

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