BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Perhaps you are one of the football fans who boycotted the NFL this season either because of player protests during the national anthem or because Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement, was never added to a roster.
Perhaps you even stuck with your protest and didn’t just claim you were done with the NFL only to quickly return to watching a dozen hours every Sunday from the Barcalounger in the corner.
If you are one of those dedicated protestors who are still holding out, Sunday is your greatest challenge.
Can you skip the Super Bowl? It’s not just a game between New England and Philadelphia, after all. This requires avoiding your brother-in-law’s annual party where everyone drinks a ton of beer. It means walking away from your neighbor’s vaunted seven-layer dip. It calls for a full rejection of American society … staying home while everyone else lives it up, even if it’s just for the commercials or Justin Timberlake.
What do you do? Go to the movies? Read a book? Watch cable news?
Will President Donald Trump tune into the Super Bowl? Will Kaepernick?
“I believe the Super Bowl transcends,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting & Sports.
Probably, although there will still, undoubtedly, be some people who tune out for personal reasons. How many is the question. Some have already come back, if not publicly, then at least privately. Others will make a Super Bowl exception. Still others will realize that very few players even kneel (other than the weeks after Trump called them out) and none have done so in the playoffs.
To each their own.
Nielsen ratings have been down this season for the NFL, but Lazarus is not one who thinks the sky is falling. While he acknowledges social issues contributed, he also points out that it is but one contributor in a very complex mix, including technology, demographics and injuries/retirements to star players. He also cites NBC’s own data that suggests there isn’t that big of a dropoff, if any at all.
“I think more people are consuming football content,” Lazarus said. “I think there are some less watching the full game broadcast. What’s still underreported however, and Nielsen is working on it, is out-of-home viewing [mainly people on their phone], which adds somewhere between 5 and 10 percent to the overall viewing and that pretty much closes the gap.
“I think between that, the streams and linear, we’ve got similar number of people watching.”
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