As many question whether or not the NFL ratings bubble has burst, FOX Sports President, COO, and Executive Producer Eric Shanks remains optimistic. Television viewership for the National Football League last season declined 8% and the first week of this season wasn’t much better with Sunday Night Football being the lone exception. But despite those challenges, Shanks is not in panic mode.
“We were affected the least of the media partners of the league last season,” Shanks told Forbes. “Whether it was [viewership] competition; whether it was the quality of the games, along with the presidential election and its debates, it influenced the ratings. What’s key is after the election, the ratings bounced back.”
The impact of Hurricane Irma was partially to blame for a disruption in Week 1 but the early returns for Week 2 didn’t provide a lift. The Sunday Night Football game on NBC between the Packers and Falcons was lower year to year compared to Packers-Vikings which also ran up against the Emmy’s. The NFL did though receive a modest 2% bump from Thursday Night Football. Other network numbers are expected to come in later today.
“We got great first-half schedules for every [television] rights holder.”
Will it be enough to reverse the league’s recent decline? We shall soon see.