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34% Are Less Likely to Follow NFL Because of Protests

Friday, September 22, 2017

Are football fans voting with their TVs?

As the National Football League struggles to explain this season’s downturn in viewer ratings, 34% of American Adults say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the growing number of protests by players on the field. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 12% are more likely to watch, while 50% say the protests have no impact on their viewing decisions. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These numbers are little changed from October of last year after Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, initiated the protests, citing racial and police brutality issues.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of Americans say they follow professional football on television, in person, on the radio or through other media at least occasionally in a typical week, with 39% who do so once or more per week. Thirty-five percent (35%) say they rarely or never follow the sport.

Among those who follow the NFL at least once a week, roughly 30% say they are less likely to do so now because of the increasing number of player protests. Only eight percent (8%) say the protests make them follow the league more.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on September 20-21, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters were evenly divided last year whether Kaepernick should be punished for his protest refusal to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Women (40%) remain more likely than men (29%) to say they rarely or never follow professional football in a typical week.

Those under 40 watch more pro football than their elders. Older adults are more likely to be tuning out because of the protests.

Interestingly, there’s little difference of opinion on the protests and NFL viewing habits among whites, blacks and other minority adults.

A third of Americans who cite football as their favorite sport to follow say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the protests.

Kaepernick, now a free agent, was not signed by any NFL team, and many of his supporters believe it was because of the protests. Nineteen percent (19%) of all Americans said in late August that they were less likely to watch NFL games this fall if Kaepernick was not signed.

By a better than two-to-one margin, Americans say they are more interested in politics than in sports.

Following the latest protests, this time in St. Louis, over the acquittal of a white former policeman who shot a black suspect, Americans continue to believe the protests are fueled more by criminals than by legitimate outrage. Only 18% think the officer is to blame in most police-involved shootings.

Americans think the media identifies more with the protesters than the police.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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