By Peter Gleason

After a season of hand-wringing and whining, the final TV ratings for the 2016 regular season justified the concern:

Broadcasters saw their viewership drop an average of 8 percent for the 2016 season, according to data obtained from the league, as the average game was watched by 1.4 million fewer people than last season (16.5 million vs. 17.9 million).

Primetime broadcasts were the most affected.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football (17 games) and NBC’s Sunday Night Football (19 games), the two most costly rights deals, were down 12 and 10 percent, respectively, in total viewers.

Day time games on Fox and CBS, which both broadcast 27 games, were down 6 and 7 percent, respectively, in total viewers.

Thursday Night Football games were excluded from the comparison, provided by the league, because of a variety factors that made the comparison versus last year skewed, including streaming on Twitter and a new partner in NBC.

In an interview last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that the data reflected that the U.S. Presidential election was “certainly a factor.”

Prior to the Nov. 8 election, NFL games — through the first nine weeks — were down 14 percent compared to 2015. But the next eight weeks saw a recovery, as weeks 10-17 were down only one percent in viewers compared to last season.


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