END ZONE: NFL Posts DISASTROUS RATINGS for 2017 Season

END ZONE: NFL Posts DISASTROUS RATINGS for 2017 Season

END ZONE: NFL Posts DISASTROUS RATINGS for 2017 Season

Even with their drop in ratings, the National Football League is still the most dominant product on the television landscape, responsible for 20 of the 30 highest-rated broadcasts of the year.

Despite the drop in NFL ratings, Nielsen data shows that the 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows on television in 2017 were football games.

For the semifinal game, in which Georgia beat Oklahoma, ESPN said there was a massive 39% increase to 26.8 million viewers compared to the same game a year ago - making it the fifth-most-watched cable telecast of all time.

In the last two years, both semifinal games were played the night before on New Year's Eve, posting lower ratings than when the games aired on New Year's Day in the previous years.

Also, there are some that believe that the string of political protests, in which players knelt during the national anthem in protest of systemic racism and injustice in the legal system, had an effect on viewership.

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NBC's "Sunday Night Football" averaged 18.2 million viewers, an 11% decline from the previous season and its smallest audience in nearly a decade. This decline comes on the heels of an 8 percent drop in ratings in 2016. Nevertheless, NFL games remained among the most watched TV programming, accounting for 33 of the top 50 programs during the year.

The kneeling Trump derided as an insult to the nation, the flag and the U.S. military was said by protesting players as a protest of racial injustice and social inequality in the wake of police killings of unarmed African-Americans.

While the 2016 drop was largely attributed to the presidential election, which intensified just as the season was hitting its stride, the 2017 loss of viewership was likely a combination of many factors. Some said Trump was the reason for the decline in TV ratings. NBC's "Sunday Night Football" won primetime this fall for the seventh straight year. Over at CBS, 15.7 million viewers indicated an 11 percent drop from 2016 and a 9 percent decline was felt at Fox with an average of 17.7 million viewers.

The decline is also being attributed to the availability of National Football League content outside of conventional TV broadcasts.

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