The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

It Seems We'd Rather Watch Re-Runs


August 12, 2020

A nation starved for live entertainment of any sort would seem to overwhelmingly welcome back professional sports, but initial television ratings indicate a lack of interest from the viewing public for most sports. Be it the lack of actual fans in the seats, phony digitally enhanced piped-in “cheering” or the heavy handed left-wing political messaging incorporated into most sports, professional sports have re-opened with underwhelming interest. Surprisingly, to many people, as prior to the opening a golf match that had Tom Brady and Peyton Manning paired with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods drew a record 5.8 million viewers across four television channels.

Certain professional sports had already suffered a decline in popularity and television ratings since the start of the “kneeling” movement spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but had seemed to regain some of the lost viewership over the past two years. But with the nationwide riots and kowtowing to the self-described “trained Marxist” leaders of Black Lives Matter, many fans have angrily switched off televised sports permanently. Some have looked for new sports to start watching, like the National Hockey League, only to have that interest quashed quickly as they witness players kneel on the ice for the National Anthem.

Some might argue that the lack of interest is primarily caused by other factors, like the lack of fans in the seats and the slapdash way the seasons have been arranged, but it seems the ratings numbers show a pattern of decline. Not necessarily in every sport, as for example MLB’s ratings have been pretty good in most markets so far in the truncated season, but huge drop offs in NBA ratings after the opening of the season indicate people have tuned in, got an eyeful, then tuned out. The NBA has been suffering ratings declines for many years now, and embracing the Black Lives Matter movement has not made their ratings rebound. There can be plenty of reasonable explanations, like August having traditionally low viewership of pretty much anything, but it seems that the numbers indicate the more strident the political messaging (like the NBA actually lettering the courts with Black Lives Matter logos), the steeper the decline.

Perhaps the ownership (governorship?) of the leagues are reshaping their brands to appeal to a younger, “Generation Z” demographic, but most ratings services indicate that age group does not watch sports in nearly the same numbers of older generations. Perhaps the ratings aren’t that important, and it’s all about the merchandising of caps, shirts and shoes. The leagues spend many millions of dollars on market research, so one would have to think that this shift towards embracing left-wing politics must have been well thought out. When the NFL starts up, in whichever format it exists, a very clear picture will emerge on whether or not our nation’s love affair with professional sports is over. I would believe most fans tune in for the action, not for a lecture on failed 19th century economic and political theories.

We’ll see in September.


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