Television ratings for NFL games have declined sharply over the past two seasons — falling off 10 percent in 2017 alone — and numerous explanations have been offered for the drop.
Many blame the national anthem protests started by Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason, which have turned off a lot of fans who see such displays as disrespectful to U.S. servicemen and women, veterans and fallen troops.
Other people point to the move away from traditional television as viewers cut the cable cord and shift to streaming options — legal and illegal.
Still others say interest in football is waning amid fears about brain trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked for his thoughts on the issue Monday during a question-and-answer session with Jim Gray at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.
His response might surprise you.
The four-time Super Bowl MVP admitted he doesn’t follow the NFL as much as he once did, and he attributed it to the rise of social media and other things competing for his attention.
“There’s so much for us to consume,” he told Gray. “As we all know. There’s so much happening. The amount I’m doing — I don’t follow [the NFL] like I used to, because there’s so many other things to follow. It’s just what can grab your attention. There’s a lot more competition today than there’s ever been, I think. Especially with social media — for people to consume information or to consume content.
“The NFL has had a great product. People love watching the game. I think it’s still doing better than, I would say, every other program out there, but compared to a time where there was less things to do, it doesn’t live up to those standards.”
Why are NFL TV Ratings Down? Tom Brady says: "There’s so much for us to consume…I hate to say it, but I don’t follow it like I used to because there are so many other things to follow…I think that it’s still doing better than every other program out there” #MIGlobal pic.twitter.com/zbWBLOzz52
— Rich Greenfield (@RichLightShed) May 1, 2018
It probably won’t please NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league’s biggest star is open about following his sport less than he once did.
Goodell can take heart, however, in the fact that Brady believes interest in the NFL is still very deep even if it’s not as wide.
“I feel like people that I’m around are as intense about it as ever,” Brady told Gray.
The 40-year-old quarterback raised eyebrows with his answer to another question, about whether the Patriots “have the appropriate gratitude for what you have achieved.”
“I plead the Fifth,” Brady responded, adding, “I think everybody in general wants to be appreciated more at work in their professional life. The people that I work with are trying to get the best out of me.”
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