On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles marched to a surprising victory over the seemingly invincible New England Patriots. The game set a number of records, including being the first Super Bowl victory for the Eagles.
However, it may also have set a record for being the least-watched Super Bowl in the last eight years. Initial numbers claim that viewership for the Super Bowl is down at least three percent from viewership from last year’s Super Bowl game, marking the lowest viewership since 2010.
That’s a shame for fans of the Philadelphia Eagles (or for people who wanted to see Tom Brady lose). They played a fantastic game and put up an impressive win.
Last night’s game was also the highest scoring Super Bowl out of the event’s 52-year history.
The Eagles managed to maintain a decent lead throughout the night, only giving up that lead for a few minutes in the fourth quarter before retaking it. Try as they might, the Patriots just couldn’t stop the Eagles.
There could be multiple causes behind this loss in viewership, however.
For some, it may just be that they’re sick of watching the New England Patriots go to Super Bowls. Out of the last eight Super Bowl games played, four of them have featured the New England Patriots, who won half of those games.
For others, they may be turned off by the strange pageantry of the Super Bowl recently, and the odd excess of the event. From $3,000 nosebleed seats to boring half-time shows that don’t appeal to many of the viewers, the NFL seems to be having trouble remembering who their target audience is.
Justin Timberlake plays well with the tween demographics and with some older women who enjoyed NSYNC, but that is not really the target demographic for the National Football League. Ending the performance with a song he wrote for a terrible children’s film starring updated troll dolls probably didn’t help.
To their credit, the halftime show, performed in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, managed to work in a performance dedicated to the memory of Prince, Minnesota’s most iconic musical talent.
However, the most likely reason behind the continually-slipping numbers that NFL broadcasts have seen this year is an obvious one; people are sick of sports and politics mixing.
Just days before the game, Chuck Goodell, the NFL’s Commissioner, said that the NFL had done ‘enough’ for veterans when defending the NFL choice that rejected TWO separate advertisements by AMVETs asking that attendees stand for the national anthem.
This latest insult came on the back of two years’ worth of protests before games where players took a knee during the national anthem. This was part of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest begun by mediocre quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Of course, the lack of kneeling may not be because players learned that viewers don’t want political statements from people whose sole job is to move a football around a field. As former running back Herschel Walker put it, there was some “hush money” given to guys in the NFL.
Walker, who currently operates Renaissance Man Food Services, the largest minority-owned business of its kind in America, said that the NFL gave over $100 million dollars to various social justice groups backed by NFL players, and that he suspected the lack of kneeling protests was tied to that “hush money.”
Whether that will be enough to bring fans back into the NFL fold, however, remains to be seen. Fans left in droves when players started preaching politics to them, and there is no evidence that simply barring players from proselytizing on the field will be enough to bring them back.
Further, fans chafed at the idea that they were being talked down to by people with no marketable skills, unrelated to football, concerning talking points from a group famously dishonest about what constitutes a ‘senseless shooting’ of an ‘unarmed’ African-American person.
The NFL faces stiff competition from other sports, such as soccer, which maintain a much more kinetic pace and are more popular and sport a larger audience internationally. They cannot afford to constantly offend their target demographics.
Hopefully, the NFL begins next year without political preening from prima donnas who barely made it through college. However, if they don’t, then the slide will likely continue, and stadiums will continue to feel the loss of revenue.