CBS Chairman Says National Anthem Protests Hurt NFL Ratings Last Season


Last season in the NFL was unlike any other in recent memory. The season began with controversy after a photo surfaced of Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem, but no one knew exactly why. Then he explained himself after the game and all hell broke loose in the media. Nonetheless, he and many others continued kneeling or raising a fist during the playing of the anthem.

The NFL suffered as ratings continued to plummet week in and week out, at least according to Sean McManus.

The CBS Sports chairman spoke during NFL Media Day in New York this week, where he revealed that his network found the reason for the dip in ratings and it had everything to do with the Anthem protest.

“I think if you look at some of the reasons why NFL viewership was down last year, that is a reason that’s mentioned by a fair amount of viewers,” McManus said, according to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. “It is something they don’t find attractive or they don’t find compelling in coverage of the football game. How big a factor it was? I don’t really know. But it was one of the factors that I think perhaps led to the slight decrease in ratings last year.”

The Anthem protest was definitely a deterrent, but McManus also believes the Presidential election as well as many other factors caused that dip in viewership.

“Then there was the retirement of Peyton Manning, the fact that Tom Brady wasn’t playing the first four weeks. J.J. Watt not playing, I think those storylines were a factor,” McManus said.

Kaepernick may find himself without a squad this season, but the Anthem protests haven’t gone anywhere. Either way, McManus says he expects ratings to rebound this season.

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