- Christian Petersen/Getty
The NFL’s TV ratings are down, and games like the Arizona Cardinals’ 28-3 win over the New York Jets on Monday likely won’t help.
Over the first five weeks, the NFL has seen a 15% decline in TV ratings, according to The Washington Post.
While the NFL scrambles to find exact answers, ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough said poorly played and officiated games can’t be encouraging viewers to tune in or stay tuned in.
During the third quarter of the Jets-Cardinals game, on a 17-play Cardinals drive that also saw the teams commit five penalties, McDonough lambasted the play and officials. After Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd was called for a questionable illegal blocking call, McDonough mumbled, “Oh my goodness,” while analyst Jon Gruden said, “Oh boy.”
Gruden said, “It’s a hard game to broadcast – every play there’s a penalty,” while McDonough began criticizing the officiating.
“If we’re looking for reasons why TV ratings are down in the NFL all over the place, this doesn’t help,” he said. “The way this game has been officiated, it’s not something anybody wants to watch.”
McDonough then said that in the Monday night games ESPN has broadcasted, there’s been relatively little controversy. It’s unclear if he meant that in a good way – that the officiating has been clean – or if he meant the games have been dull.
But officiating is not just to blame. There’s little reason for average fans to want to tune into a blowout featuring little offense and few household names on the field.
However, even in more competitive games, like the Sunday night contest between the Colts and Texans, which the Texans won 26-23 in a comeback, ratings are still down. The game saw a 38% ratings drop from the 2015 Week 6 Sunday night game between the Colts and Patriots, according to a sports TV ratings site, and had the lowest rating for a Sunday night game since 2011.
While it remains to be seen whether ratings are down because of the election, national anthem protests, poor play, or perhaps just a fading interest in the game, ESPN likely won’t be happy that McDonough blatantly criticized the product they were broadcasting.
Listen to McDonough’s comments: