NFL Season Marches On Amid Ratings Drop and Virus Concerns

Michael Marciano
Sports Business Writer

The NFL season has been underway for six weeks now: Here is a brief rundown of what you may have missed.

The New York Jets and the New York Giants have a combined record of 1-11. The craziest fact about that,

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been tasked with ensuring the NFL season can occur amid a global pandemic (Photo Courtesy of Business Insider)

is that the last victorious home team at Metlife Stadium was not the Jets or the Giants—but the New York Guardians of the XFL. On top of that, the San Francisco 49ers have two wins in East Rutherford, NJ this year as they beat both the Jets and Giants at home already this season. It is becoming apparent that both New York teams are deadlocked in a race to obtain the best draft pick in the 2021 draft. Both teams would seem have their eyes on the star QB from Clemson, Trevor Lawrence.

Television ratings are down, following the trend of every other professional sports league this year. Week 6’s Sunday Night Football matchup saw 15.08 million viewers tune in. For comparison, over half of the SNF games in 2019 had over 20 million viewers. The opening game of the NFL this year boasted a decrease of 17% in viewership from the prior year, and the NFL’s Thursday night matchups are losing viewers in the millions as the weeks go on. There are a couple reasons for this. One, other leagues like the NBA and MLB have been in the midst of the postseason, which obviously drew viewers away from the NFL. In addition, an increasing number of people are choosing to not tune into the NFL because it is not quite the same league and viewing experience without fans. The NFL as a league tends to rely a lot on fan participation for excitement. That is why Seattle Seahawks fans are referred to as “the 12th man,” as fan participation can tip the scales in the home teams’ direction. As a result of having that key factor out, fans view the NFL as a less dynamic league and opt to do something else on a Sunday afternoon.

The Tennessee Titans have seen the most positive COVID-19 cases in the NFL, resulting in multiple games being delayed (Photo Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans)

The NFL has also seen the league’s fair share of cases of COVID-19. As of October 21st, the Las Vegas Raiders have sent their entire offensive line staff home after a positive test from RT Trent Brown. This comes after the news that 13 players from the Tennessee Titans and over 30 other players have tested positive for COVID-19. This is mainly due to the loose restrictions on NFL players. Players are allowed to leave the confines of the stadium and live life as normal, see whoever they want, etc. This is a far contrast to the “bubble” tactic (which boasted a total of zero COVID-19 cases across both the NBA and NHL). NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been looking into a plan of action to take to reduce the number of infections in the league, but nothing has been announced as of now.


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