Has pro football forgotten who its audience is?
National anthem protests are expected at Super Bowl LII next month, and NBC is committed to airing the activism. According to Hollywood Reporter, the network affirmed it will provide coverage of kneeling players.
“It’s certainly possible,” Super Bowl executive producer Fred Gaudelli said about the likelihood of protests. “It was a pretty big story in our country this fall. We’d show it.”
Gaudelli added, “When you’re covering a live event, you’re covering what’s happening. If there are players who chose to kneel, they will be shown live.”
The NFL executive, who also hosts “Sunday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football,” dismissed concerns that the drop in attendance at regular season games is the result of backlash against the anthem protests.
“New York had a game in week 17 where it was 4 degrees outside,” Gaudelli argued, describing a New Year’s Eve matchup between the New York Giants and the Washington Red Skins. “Why would you go and sit in that when the Giants are 2 and 13?”
Showing protests of the “Star Spangled Banner” has been a decision networks have grappled with this season.
NFL ratings plummeted by 9.7 percent during the 2017 regular season, ESPN reports. The average game was viewed by 1.6 million fewer people than tuned in last year.
The wild card games over the weekend saw even worse ratings–an 11.5 percent decline from the same period last year.
This year’s Super Bowl will take place February 4 on NBC at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.
One thing is for sure: if aired, the national anthem protests won’t be seen by all Americans. Many fans will hold protests of their own–by turning off the TV.