College Football Ratings and Attendance Declined; NBA Ratings Are Up Does Politics Matter?

The relationship between sports ratings and politics is perhaps more complicated — or less relevant — than we might think.

For the last two seasons, political eyes have been fixed mainly on the NFL, and the conventional wisdom (at least on the Right) has been clear. Politicize the sport, and lower your ratings. And there’s been some data to support the notion that anthem protests turned off viewers, but how important — really — are the protests compared to other factors?

The question gets more interesting in light of reports today that college football reported its largest attendance drop in 34 years. Every Power Five conference except the Big 10 lost fans in the stands. Multiple major universities are downsizing stadiums.

This news comes on the heels of significant college football ratings declines on multiple networks. The College Football Playoff did well, but regular-season college games on ABC (down 18 percent), CBS (down 10 percent), NBC (down 3 percent), and ESPN (down 6 percent) drew significantly fewer…

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