New Poll Indicates Kaepernick Protest Didn’t Affect NFL Viewership

Colin Kaepernick was reported to be ending his national anthem protest next season. (CBS Screenshot)

As Colin Kaepernick goes into his fifth month as a free-agent quarterback, a new survey reveals the protest he led is not to blame for declining NFL ratings in the 2016 season.

J.D. Power released a survey Thursday, July 27, about the viewership of the NHL, MLB, MLS, NBA and the NFL in the last year and the results of the football portion showed and the results showed those who said they planned to boycott the NFL may not have followed through.

The marketing information services company polled 9,200 people, according to ESPN, and asked the participants who had attended one game whether they watched fewer pigskin matches and why. The sports website reported 26 percent of online poll takers cited protests, which were ignited by Kaepernick last August, as the reason why they watched fewer games.

However, The Huffington Post reported that number stems from those who reported watching fewer football games in general, so in actuality, only 12 percent of people watched less football and 26 percent of them — or 3 percent of the entire polling group — blamed protests for tuning out. About 2.8 percent pointed to domestic violence as a reason for not watching; meanwhile, 27 percent of pollers watched more and 62 percent watched the same amount of the game.

Weeks after Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49er, began his protest of the national anthem last season, Twitter users called for a boycott of the league. The cry continued throughout the season as other athletes began to kneel or raise their fists in opposition to Black oppression. Many, like “The Breakfast Club” co-host Charlamange Tha God, have pointed to Kaepernick’s protest as the reason why he’s been blackballed since opting out of his contract. Yet, this survey indicates his actions didn’t have a big effect on viewership, so teams likely shouldn’t fear signing him.

NFL ratings have been declining in recent years. The league reported per USA Today that total regular-season viewership among its broadcast partners fell by 8 percent from 2016 to 2015.

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