There was once a point, not a decade ago, in which there was a very real argument for American football overtaking baseball as the “national pastime”, but those arguments have now been sacked for a loss.
Baseball’s historical value is unbeatable, and its accessibility is far greater than the investment-heavy sport of football, which has always left the diamond in a more central role than the gridiron. But, as college football soared, the NFL was well on its way to overtaking baseball in popularity here in the States.
That was up until politics began to enter the game, pushing a vast number of viewers away from the NFL, who, for their part, simply stood out of the way of protesting players. This irked a great many conservative fans, who believed that sports should remain an escape from reality, not a reflection of it.
Ratings soon plummeted for the NFL, with tickets sales taking a massive dive as well. Add COVID to the mix, and the future of the National Football League looks to be very much in jeopardy.
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Things are so bad, in fact, that even the Super Bowl can’t seem to generate a whole lot of hype around the game.
There was a lot of history at Super Bowl LV on Sunday. Unfortunately, not all of it looks good when it comes to how many people actually watched – and we’re not just talking about Nielsen’s unprecedented delay in getting the actual data out.
In figures released Tuesday morning by CBS Sports, the big game had a total audience of 96.4 million viewers on CBS and a bundle of platforms and outlets, according to Nielsen. Confirming suspicions that many had even going into the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, that is the least-watched Super Bowl in recent history.
Just how bad was it?
With around 91.6 million viewers on CBS alone, the 2021 Super Bowl is still the most watched show of the past year. However, taking an 8% stumble from what Fox had on its broadcast network last year, the 55th Super Bowl distinctly had the smallest network audience since the very different TV era of 2006.
Don’t fear, sports fans: MLB’s opening day is right around the corner.
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