TV networks are feeling the strains of disappointing NFL ratings, as they are forced to restructure deals with advertisers to make up for the smaller audience, and their opportunity to make money off remaining games during the lucrative holiday season narrows.
Some networks also have considered letting advertisers pay less for commercials during NFL games and other programming than they originally pledged.
NBC made the unusual move of lowering the price it charged advertisers that already had committed to run in a Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game planned for Thanksgiving night after a outbreak on the Ravens forced the game’s postponement to the following Wednesday.
Much of the ratings drop is attributed to the 2020 presidential election coverage siphoning away viewers and the pandemic’s wreaking havoc on the league. Aside from reschedulings and some sidelined stars, the league has faced a backlash from some fans over its social justice efforts, including its embrace of Black Lives Matter. These factors are compounded by the secular decline of traditional TV viewing, where ratings have been eroded by the uptick in ad-free streaming services.