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Subject: NFL Anthem Protests Hit Fox As Verizon, Networks Consider New Deals
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Subject: NFL Anthem Protests Hit Fox As Verizon, Networks Consider New Deals
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 08:13:09 -0700
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NFL Anthem Protests Hit Fox As Verizon, Networks Consider New Deals
  Mike Ozanian , FORBES STAFF

The protests by NFL players during the National Anthem have been hurting 
the league's television ratings since last year.

This season, as the protests have continued, the television ratings and 
ramifications for broadcasters have worsened.

More bad news for the NFL: an analyst for Credit Suisse yesterday 
downgraded his price and earnings per share targets for 21st Century Fox 
in part due to NFL ratings that are coming in below market expectations.

  "We trim our 2018/19 EPS forecasts … ahead of Q1 earnings," analyst 
Omar Sheikh wrote in a note to clients Thursday. "The key near term 
headwinds are soft NFL ratings and the risk that the Sky transaction is 
blocked by UK regulators."

The downgrade comes at a time when the NFL is negotiating two important 
distribution deals that end after this season: Verizon's $250 million a 
year streaming agreement and the $450 million a year Thursday Night 
Football deal for games shared by CBS and NBC.

Through five weeks, the league's ratings are substantially lower this 
season, according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News.:

The league's average TV audience through Week 5 of the 2017 season 
dropped 7% vs. the same period of the 2016 season, and the average game 
audiences are down 18% compared to the first five weeks of the 2015 
season. The NFL's average TV audience (including Sunday afternoon, 
Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night games) slid to 15.156 
million viewers through Week 5 of the 2017 season, down 7.42% from an 
average of 16.371 million viewers through the same period of the 2016 
season, and 18% lower from the first five weeks of the 2015 season.

  I still think the NFL will get an increase in its streaming and 
broadcasting rights. After all, compared with other programming, the NFL 
still scores well. But the league likely won't get as much money as it 
would have if the trend for televison ratings were favorable.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeOzanian

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