National Anthem Protest a ‘Turn Off’ for NFL Fans; Nearly 20% Watch Games on Mobile Devices or Computers

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National Anthem Protest is a ‘Turn Off’ for NFL Fans, Cited as the Leading Cause for Viewership Falloff


Nearly 20% Occasionally Watch Games on Mobile Devices or Computers

South Orange, NJ, November 21, 2016 – In a year of declining television viewership for NFL games, 23% of Americans say they are watching fewer games, and a quarter of them attribute it to the protests during the playing of the national anthem.

These were the findings of the latest Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted last week among 913 randomly called adult Americans, on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

Of those watching fewer games, the fall off was attributed to:

Protests during the national anthem   25%

Too many commercial interruptions    10%

Match-ups aren’t as good                       10%

Too many games on TV                             8%

More interest in the election                    3%

Other (or don’t know)                               44%

“The anthem protest still seems to resonate most loudly but there clearly are a number of issues negatively affecting viewership,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute.  “We saw last week that the best remedy is great match ups and great games”

As for San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests, 50% disapprove of his not choosing to vote in this month’s election, with only 14% approving. Among African-Americans, only 30% voiced disapproval, compared to 58% of white respondents.

Nearly 20% Occasionally Watch Games on Mobile Devices or Computers

watch-live-sports-shspThe poll also tracked viewing habits of fans – of all sports – and found that 22% watched less live sports on TV than in the past; 13% are watching more, and 60% about the same.

Specifically, 17% said they sometimes watched on a computer; 19% said they sometimes watched on a mobile device (like a phone or a tablet), and 83% said they watched on a traditional television set.

As an area of growth, viewing on a mobile device has the greatest increase. Of those watching on a mobile device, 28% are watching more, 15% less, and 55% about the same. Of those watching on a computer, 25% are watching more, 23% less, and 50% about the same. Of those responding “yes” to television sets, 16% are watching more, 20% less, and 63% about the same.

“Television remains by far the biggest aggregator for sports fans,” said Gentile. “But nearly 20% of fans do some of their viewing in other ways. We will regularly be tracking these trends.”


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S.News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car from New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark.

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About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone November 14-16 among 913 adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute.

Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.

Media: Media: Marty Appel Public Relations,;
Seton Hall Associate Director of Media Relations, Michael Ricciardelli,;
Office Phone: 973-378-9845
Cell Phone: 862-520-9639


The results:


  1. Do you find yourself watching more NFL games, fewer NFL games or about the same amount of NFL games?
  2. More 10
  3. Fewer 23
  4. About the same 58
  5. Don’t know 9




  1. Why have you watched fewer NFL games? Please pick your main reason from the following.
  2. Match-ups aren’t as good 10
  3. Too many games on TV 8
  4. More interested in the election 3
  5. Too many commercial interruptions 10
  6. The protests during the national anthem 25
  7. Other 37
  8. Don’t know  7


  1. Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who sparked the national anthem protests, refused to vote in the recent Presidential Election, also in protest. Do you approve, disapprove or have no opinion about this decision?
  2. Approve 14
  3. Disapprove 50
  4. No Opinion 36


  1. Do you watch more live sports on TV than in the past, less live sports on TV or about the same amount as in the past?
  2. More 13
  3. Less                                     22
  4. About the same 60
  5. Don’t know 5


  1. How do you watch live sports? On television?
  2. Yes 83
  3. No 17


  1. On a mobile device (tablet or phone)?
  2. Yes 19
  3. No 81


  1. On a computer?
  2. Yes 17
  3. No 83


  1. How closely would you say you follow sports, very closely, closely, not closely or not at all?
  2. Very closely 18
  3. Closely 30
  4. Not closely 35
  5. Not at all 18


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