December 10, 2017: San Francisco 49ers players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans.
According to the latest Nielsen figures, an average 2017 game audience fell 9.7 percent to 14.9 million people.
The league had hoped to halt the drop in ratings by attempting to speed up the game and change their television commercial strategy.
The ratings slide bulit on an 8 percent drop from the prior season, which had been partially attributed to the hectic 2016 presidential election, the network added.
That means Goodell's National Football League, which can still boast the most popular sport in the U.S., nonetheless lost an average 1.6 million fans per game last season - like having 21 games played in an empty stadium. Additionally, the popularity of the NFL Redzone certainly impacted the number of fans who tuned in to the daytime games on CBS and FOX. With a schedule of "Thursday Night Football" games sometimes advertising matchups between quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Brock Osweiler, it left fans much to be desired.
The Sunday night program has dropped 19 percent since 2015. That said, the National Basketball Association has seen a 20 percent jump in viewership compared to the 2016-17 season. "Thursday Night Football", which is shared by CBS, NBC and the NFL Network, averaged 10.9 million viewers, a 12% drop from the previous season. Twenty of the top 30 highest-rated shows on television in 2017 were football games.
But the top-rated USA show was NBC's Sunday Night Football at 18.2 million viewers, even though that was the show's lowest viewership figure since 2008.
It's likely the decline in viewership will continue into the next regular season. But even if that's true, it's likely that the National Football League will still be the most reliable ratings giant that network television has.