One in five respondents in a recent Harris Poll said they will be less likely to watch televised games when the National Football League season begins.
The Adweek/ Harris Poll surveyed 2,124 U.S. adults online between April 25 and 27, 2011.
Despite being America's favorite sport, there is concern about the upcoming NFL season based on a labor lockout following failed negotiations between the players and team owners.
The NFL did hold its annual draft recently in a somewhat modified and scaled-back format, producing lower viewership and ratings than in previous years. Is that a nod to future interest in the sport, or an anomaly based on the present situation?
“Although professional football has reigned as America's favorite sport for many years, between the current labor lockout and increased understanding of the damaging effects of head injuries, the sport may have a rough road ahead,” Harris noted in a statement. “Professional football is a business, as the fierce labor lockout makes abundantly clear, yet if these financial discussions turn off the fans, NFL executives may need to reevaluate their priorities.”
• When Americans were asked how much more or less likely they are, if at all, to watch football when the season begins, two thirds report that they will not be any more or less likely to watch (67%) yet one in five say they will be less likely to watch (19%) with 11% much less likely.
• Very few Americans will be more likely to watch (4%) and 10% are not sure.
• The older a person is the less likely they will be to watch football when the season begins — 12% of those 18-34 years old say so, compared to about one in five of those 35-44 (19%) and 45-55 (18%), and 25% of those 55 years and older.
• Men are somewhat more likely than women to say they are less likely to watch football when it returns (22% vs. 16%).
• Americans who earn less than $35K per year are least likely to say they will be less likely to watch football when the season begins (16%) and those who earn $35K-$49.9K are most likely to say so (21%).
• About one in five say so among those who earn $50K-$74.9K (18%) and $75K or more (20%).
• There is little difference by age or gender (and very few people overall) who say they are more likely to watch football when the season begins — between just 3% and 5% of all age groups and both genders say this.
“While players and coaches can be replaced (some more easily than others), the one thing professional football cannot survive without, are the millions of Americans who watch the games, play the related fantasy sports, buy team gear, snacks, beverages and countless other products and services related to the industry. Could you imagine a world with no Super Bowl ads?” noted the Harris statement.