Only About One-Fifth of All Young People Under Age 30 are Likely to Watch the NFL on Sundays

By Jason Lisk

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released results of a poll dealing with sports topics ranging from youth sports participation, attitudes toward tackle football, and attending church versus watching football on Sundays.

There has been plenty of talk about why NFL Television Ratings are in relatively decline (while still being the most watched network programming). Protests, over saturation, and people using other devices to watch programming on streaming services are among the offered causes. But when you look at the results when it comes to the different age groups, the NFL should prefer that its something like response to protests.

According to the poll, only 22% of those aged 18-29 say they are likely to watch the NFL on Sundays (10% who say they are likely to both watch football and go to church, 12% who say they watch football only). That’s nearly half of the total for those age 30-49, where 41% say they are likely to be watching football on Sundays.

Our Ryan Glasspiegel was on the World’s Fastest Growing Media Podcast with  @SportsTVRatings, and discussed the hidden factor of Netflix and video game usage changes in behavior.

Just in the last two years, consumption of internet-connected streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have almost tripled. As a father, I can tell you that it is very much a factor in how the kids are consuming media, as my children rarely watch network television. Observationally, my son and his friends, even though they play sports, do not sit and watch them. They are far more likely to play video games together online and watch Netflix. They would be the generation coming after that current 22% number for ages 18-29.

The poll also asked about concerns about head injuries and parents. While the majority (71%) would still allow their sons to play football, there are demographic trends that should also be concerning to the NFL since participation in youth sports is one indicator of who will watch the sport in the future.

"White Americans are significantly more likely than nonwhite Americans to say that they would not allow their young son to play competitive football. Nearly one-third (32%) of white Americans say they would not allow it, compared to 22% of black and 13% of Hispanic Americans. Among white Americans, willingness to let their son play football differs substantially by education level and party. Whites with a college degree are much more likely than those without a college degree to say they would not allow their son to play football (41% vs. 27%, respectively). Although there are no differences in the likelihood of Democrats and Republicans overall to prohibit their son from playing competitive football (31% vs. 30%, respectively), nearly half (48%) of white Democrats say they would not it, while only 31% of white Republicans say the same."

All of those indicators with the younger generations should be the top concern of the NFL in maintaining their grip on the American public as the top entertainment option.