NFL ticket prices have plummeted following the outcry over the national anthem protests, dropping for the first time this year below the 2016 season’s prices.
An analysis by CNBC found that ticket prices during the first three games of the 2017 season enjoyed a 20-40 percent increase over last year, but then skidded in Week 4 and actually dropped by 2 percent in Week 5.
With faltering TV ratings and growing concern over concussions, the drop has triggered claims that the game’s future may be in some jeopardy.
The timing of the ticket price fall coincides with the uproar following President Trump’s criticism of the protests on Sept. 22, which prompted nearly 200 players to sit or take a knee during the national anthem in the Sept. 24-25 games in Week 3.
“After the president’s comments and NFL player reactions, Week 4 saw only a 5 percent increase, and now we’re seeing an outright decline. So that’s a bad direction,” said CNBC’s Eric Chemi.
The figures, based on data from the website Ticket IQ, come with the national anthem protests dropping off in the two weeks since Mr. Trump suggested team owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who refuses to stand.
None of the players apparently sat or took a knee at the first match-up of Week 5, continuing a trend that saw the number of players protesting drop from nearly 200 in Week 3 to about 50 in Week 4.
The take-a-knee protests began last season as a statement against racism and police brutality by players like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not been signed this season.
The NFL has since taken hits from both sides, with Kaepernick supporters calling for a boycott until he has been hired by a team and protest foes vowing to tune out.
A Seton Hall University poll released on Sept. 29 found that 29 percent of fans said they were watching fewer games this season, and of those, 47 percent blamed the take-a-knee protests.
Other factors listed by CNBC that could be dragging down ticket prices include game match-ups, weather, and underperforming teams.