>> America's most popular sport suddenly scrambling to keep viewers. TV ratings on Tuesday reflecting a steep decline for pigskin perennial Monday Night Football. This week's Bucs Panthers matchup notching the lowest viewership for a week five game in ESPN history. The ratings slide part of this season's broader trend, in which the NFL audience has eroded by 11% from last year.
The League recently sent a memo to team owners trying to calm their nerves about the downward spiral, pointing to tough competition from the presidential debates and downplaying other factors that could be driving viewers away, among them the Kaepernick effect. Some surveys reportedly showing a backlash against players who kneel during the national anthem, a movement kicked off by 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Cord cutting another possible culprit, with Twitter and even Yahoo Live streaming games. Others point to a lack of star power. Tom Brady deflate gate suspension sidelining him until last Sunday, no surprise his return was on of this seasons few ratings bright spots. Finally, some folks may just be footballed out, with TV over-saturation possibly also to blame.
But the overall dip is making advertisers antsy. Many pay networks high six figure prices for a 60 second spot, in exchange for guaranteed numbers of viewers. When those numbers fall short, networks are often forced to shell out refunds in the form of credits, leaving less in their pockets and leaving brands potentially weary of ponying up more money in the future.