The NFL simply can't catch a ratings break since President Trump ignited a firestorm for the league by highlighting the constant player protests during the singing of the national anthem.
Of course, just last weekend the league was forced to cancel Sunday night football for the first time in over a decade. While the decision was passed off by the NFL as a "fan fairness" issue given that the game fell on New Years Eve, something tells us they just didn't want to read media reports about the abysmal ratings that would have resulted from such a game.
“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. windows,” NFL broadcast chief Howard Katz said in a statement.
Now we learn from Sports Illustrated that all four of the league's wild card games this past weekend were a complete ratings disaster. Overall, ratings were down 14% versus last year's wild card weekend and the New Orleans game came in as the weekend's biggest loser with ratings down a staggering 21%.
Titans-Chiefs (14.7) was down 11 percent versus last year's Raiders-Texans game.
Falcons-Rams (14.9) was down 10 percent versus last year's Lions-Seahawks game.
Bills-Jaguars (17.2) was down 10 percent versus last year's Dolphins-Steelers game.
Panthers-Saints (20.4) was down 21 percent versus last year's Giants-Packers game.
Wild Card Weekend Overnights Roundup:— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) January 8, 2018
TEN-KC: 14.7 HH -11% YOY vs. 16.6 (OAK-HOU)
ATL-LAR: 14.9 HH -10% YOY vs. 16.5 (DET-SEA)
BUF-JAX: 17.2 HH -10% YOY vs. 19.2 (MIA-PIT)
CAR-NO: 20.4 HH -21% YOY vs. 25.9 (NYG-GB)
All told, Wild Card overnight ratings were down 14% vs 2017—not at all surprising given the absence of three of the NFL's biggest TV draws (Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle), the rep from the No. 1 DMA (NY Giants) and Pittsburgh's having earned a bye week.— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) January 8, 2018
Of course, amid the ongoing dispute between the NFL and the White House, one has to wonder whether President Trump's mid-field appearance for the national anthem during the National Championship game last night in Atlanta was motivated as much by his desire to take a jab at the NFL as his love for college football...