It looks like NFL ratings have seen a bump after a decline the past two years. What do you think the reason is?

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Total Votes : 20

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American football has long been the most popular sport in the United States, and the NFL has followed suit, becoming the most popular sports league in the country. It was the undisputed king of sports in America, up until a little over two years ago when quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his silent protest of social injustice by kneeling for the national anthem.

What was envisioned to be a simple silent protest with no intention of any disrespect, became something not even Kaepernick could have imagined.

The debate over his kneeling created barriers between people, with some players opting to join him, while others didn’t. It was turned on its head and took center stage as a national controversy during the 2016 and 2017 NFL seasons.

The debate even reached the White House, where President Donald Trump has been heavily outspoken against Kaepernick and his tactics since he took office.

And over the last two years, a huge talking point, and not just in sports, was about how NFL ratings had plunged, with the anthem controversy being labeled as the most significant reason why.

It’s a point that Trump made sure to continuously reinforce in our minds over the last two years and he made sure to take one last shot before the latest season began.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” Trump tweeted. “If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back?”

But, this season has been somewhat of a revival for the league because it has seen an uptick in ratings. The sport wasn’t dead by any means, but it was losing a lot of viewers for whatever reason. Many believed it was because of Kaepernick, the players that supported him, and the owners that supported those players. People were not happy with how the NFL handled the situation.

And what do you know? Viewership is going up the same season the anthem protest controversy has seemingly died.

According to CNN’s Frank Pallotta, viewership is up 5%. Ratings increased for all four of the NFL’s TV partners (ESPN, CBS, NBC, and FOX), while NBC’s Sunday Night Football was once-again (for the eighth-straight year) the top primetime show in the country. And 46 of the top 50 watched shows in 2018 were football games.

This past weekend we had the first round of the NFL Playoffs, the Wild Card Weekend, and ratings were up 12% from last year. The matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears was the most-watched Wild Card game on NBC ever and was the most-watched of any TV show since last year’s Super Bowl.

But, claiming that the NFL’s ratings are solely tied to the anthem protest would be a lazy assumption because correlation is not causation, and there are so many more factors to consider.

Last season ratings were down in large part due to teams being hamstrung by injuries. Stars quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Deshaun Watson, and eventually Carson Wentz missed parts of, most of, or the entire season. And this was hurtful because audiences love offense, and if you lose the best players from the most popular position, you lose offense, and in turn, interest.

In addition to them, we were missing additional players such as superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., star running back David Johnson, and star defensive player J.J. Watt. And these are just some of a handful of key players that were absent.

But 2018 has seen a lot of things go right. For starters, we saw the return of all these stars. But beyond them, numerous games and storylines captivated audiences.

The high-scoring environment we live in today may be the biggest reason why. Fans love offense, and we saw plenty of touchdowns scored this season- 1,371 to be exact, which is a record. The Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints attracted a lot of eyes and interest because they gave us three of the most exciting and well-oiled offensive machines we’ve ever seen.

Next, the parity in this league was arguably at an all-time best. Seventy-three games were decided by three or fewer points- also a record. This is the first time I can remember a Week 17 in the regular with so much at stake. Usually, teams are resting their players because everything is already decided by then, but in the AFC alone, there were still 128 different possibilities before play on the last day.

And regarding storylines, you had the historic season from first-year starter Patrick Mahomes who took the NFL world by storm, while the high-powered Rams and Saints were in a battle for NFC supremacy all year long. Longtime TV personality Jon Gruden’s return to the NFL coaching ranks, the drama in Green Bay, the rollercoaster season of the Dallas Cowboys, and the blowup of the Pittsburgh Steelers were all fascinating as well.

And lastly, the scheduling was excellent. Thursday Night games, for once, were quality games. In the past, we’d get snoozers because they were solely bad divisional games. But this year we got to see the Rams take on the Minnesota Vikings, the Patriots vs. the Indianapolis Colts, the Saints vs. the Cowboys, Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks, and the Los Angeles Chargers vs. the Chiefs.

On other nights we got to see Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson vs. Patrick Mahomes, Brady vs. Mahomes, Brady vs. the Steelers, and the 54-51 thriller between the Rams and Chiefs on Monday Night Football, which may go down as the most exciting and bizarre game in NFL history.

Furthermore, the remaining eight teams left in the playoffs have the brand-name, quality, or both, that intrigue viewers. They are expected to give us excellent matchups and storylines for the remainder of the postseason.

So, it’s hard to argue that the protest being over is the reason why the ratings are up again. It’s possibly a reason, but we can’t definitively say it’s the reason. However, it’s fair to say that the product and star power of the NFL is near an all-time high.

If you want to read more about this, you can check it out on CNN here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

It looks like NFL ratings have seen a bump after a decline the past two years. What do you think the reason is?

32% Good games
68% Protest over
34% Good games
66% Protest over
25% Good games
75% Protest over

Good games

Protest over

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