The year 2020, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has touched all businesses and has even served to deflate football, with the NFL seeing some disturbing numbers as fall moved into winter.
Through the first 13 weeks of the season, NFL ratings were down 7% across the broadcast and cable networks, according to Nielsen data, leading to changes in ad rates.
A prominent example came when NBC lowered the rates that the ad companies already had committed to pay for the rescheduled Ravens vs. Steelers game. Slated for Thanksgiving night, that game was eventually played six days later because of coronavirus outbreaks.
Networks continue to consider further reductions for advertisers. “We’ve worked with every one of our partners individually to find what works best for them,” an NBC Sports spokesman said in an email to the Wall Street Journal. “We will have delivery solutions for all of our NFL advertisers this season.”
Fox Sports and NFL Network broadcast the Cowboys-Ravens game on a Tuesday night. The game was rescheduled three times. And the Cowboys’ awful season meant they already were causing ratings trouble for networks. Their game with San Francisco was removed from the coveted NBC “Sunday Night Football” schedule this coming Sunday – in favor of a Cleveland Browns–New York Giants game.
The Journal reports that the NFL shortcomings can be attached to the presidential election coverage and the adverse reactions to social-justice efforts.
NFL ratings continue to trend higher than other sports’ numbers – and certainly better than entertainment programming has fared.
But as all sports ratings suffer, networks increasingly can’t make things better by putting advertisers into their primetime schedules because of that poor performance among entertainment broadcasts.