Trump attacked the NFL on Twitter for not cracking down on players who kneeled in protest during the pre-game playing of the U.S. national anthem, encouraging people not to attend games and pointing out ratings declines. NFL playoff games are usually among the top rated TV shows of any given year and while people look at sports as games, television and league executives know it is just a television show.
The viewing habits that are disrupting the rest of television are also starting to affect the once seemingly invincible NFL.
In 2017, only 10,800,000 fans watched Monday Night Football on ESPN.
The Thursday and Sunday NFL prime-time packages took the biggest hits in viewership.
That's the lowest number of viewers per game in nine years - since an average 14.6 million fans tuned in during the 2008 season. "That's a pretty meaningful drop", he said. Over at CBS, 15.7 million viewers indicated an 11 percent drop from 2016 and a 9 percent decline was felt at Fox with an average of 17.7 million viewers.
NBC's "Sunday Night Football" is now on pace to be the most-watched prime time show for the seventh consecutive year, and ESPN's "Monday Night Football" is still king among males ages 18-49 every week.
Mulvilhill noted that the ratings decline for Fox's Sunday games was more pronounced at the start of the season, when the anthem protests were a major story and President Donald Trump was weighing in.
The decline is also being attributed to the availability of National Football League content outside of conventional TV broadcasts.
That means Goodell's National Football League, which can still boast the most popular sport in the United States, nonetheless lost an average 1.6 million fans per game last season - like having 21 games played in an empty stadium.
Online video highlights are also cutting into TV time. The NFL saw its ratings drop in 2017 by a larger percentage than they dropped in 2016.