Top Exec At FOX Sports Upbeat About NFL TV Ratings Rebounding

Top Exec At FOX Sports Upbeat About NFL TV Ratings Rebounding 960 689 C-Suite Network
President/COO/Executive Producer of FOX Sports, Eric Shanks believes that NFL ratings that were down in 2016 have a good shot an improving in 2017. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Eric Shanks, the President, COO, and Executive Producer of FOX Sports, is upbeat. After a 2016-17 season in which the NFL saw television ratings drop 8%, and the preseason this year down for FOX, he’s optimistic and sounds hardly like some fans and the media that have been in near panic over how the NFL has been received on television recently.

“We were affected the least of the media partners of the league last season,” said Shanks just prior to Week 1 of the 2017-18 NFL season. “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.”

Whether that holds is the ultimate question for the NFL and the broadcast partners. Shanks said the NFL is doing its part where it can.

“We got great first-half schedules for every [television] rights holder.”

Important news takes a bite out of most all programming and the NFL has been no different. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were a large factor in the Fall of 2016, at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, it was the weather that played a role.

Total viewership for Week 1 in the NFL (excluding Monday Night Football) saw total viewership down -13% and -14% in the 19-49 age demo compared to Week 1 of last season, according to a report by Guggenheim Securities using information from Nielsen. All networks saw declines, with NBC’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football as the exception. The biggest hit was FOX regional broadcasts.

As an example, the Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers afternoon game on FOX nationally saw 22.8 million viewers, 12.7 household rating, down -18% from last season’s Week 1 New York Giants- Dallas Cowboys game. Given that both those teams…