Lessons In Economics: Empty NFL Seats When Employees Turn Sports Into Politics

Poor attendance across the NFL shows that consumers adjust economic behaviors after political/cultural events, and now it’s cutting into Q3 earnings…

Here’s some shots of low attendance across the NFL:

It has not been a return to normalcy as the NFL would have liked:

The NFL likely hoped for a return to normalcy for Week 6, especially after Commissioner Goodell’s call to “move past the anthem controversy,” and address the issue in detail at league meetings on Tuesday. Instead, what the NFL got was a return to what has become the “new normal” in the age of anthem protests: empty seats.

Note, that the Jets played New England on Sunday, meaning there should have been a big crowd for that game. The Texans, Atlanta, and Baltimore are also very relevant teams with relatively loyal fan bases. Yet, thousands upon thousands of fans no-showed or didn’t buy tickets for those games.

Of course, Commissioner Roger Goodell has flip-flopped on the issue:

He said “stand” just last week

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that team owners will discuss a plan when they meet next week for dealing with the raging national controversy over players’ protests during the national anthem, adding that while the league respects the right of its players to express their opinions, it believes they should stand during the playing of the anthem.

 

While stopping short of saying the NFL would require its players to stand, Goodell strongly suggested in a letter to NFL teams that at next week’s meeting the league would propose to owners that players be required to do so, while also providing a platform to recognize their community activism.

To saying players can go ahead and protest if they choose to:

The NFL said on Friday it has no plans to mandate players stand for the U.S. national anthem, but will rather present a possible solution on how to end the controversial protests when it meets with team owners next week.

“(Goodell) has a plan that he is going to present to owners about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country.”

“What we don’t have is a proposal that changes our policy, we don’t have something that mandates anything. That’s clear. If that was the case I doubt the head of the NFLPA would have put a joint statement out with us.”

President Trump addressed the NFL issue specifically in his weekly address last week:

And it’s not just empty ticket sales and loss of spending at concessions.

Credit Suisse has said that CBS will most likely miss on earnings for the third quarter, likely to come in below estimates, which are lofty anyway, and the blame is placed squarely on weak NFL ratings:

Declining NFL television ratings will lower CBS earnings, according to Credit Suisse.

The firm cut its third-quarter EPS estimates by 5 percent, citing CBS’ softer Sunday NFL ratings. The media company reports on Nov. 2.

“We expect third-quarter network advertising to decline 3 percent (previously +1 percent), driven by soft ratings for both the summer schedule and for the start of the NFL season,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Omar Sheikh. “With only one of the three content licensing deals we expected for the second half announced in third quarter, we also expect content licensing revenue growth to be skewed to the fourth quarter.”