For the most part, ESPN avoided broadcasting the National Anthem last year when it broadcast National Football League games. They made exceptions on the anniversary of 9/11, after the Las Vegas tragedy, and following President Trump’s critical comments. However, ESPN has actively decided to not air the National Anthem during NFL games this season.
As ESPN President James Pitaro commented last week during media day:
“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem, and I don’t think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,”
Pitaro and ESPN are attempting to help the NFL with the National Anthem issue. Ever since the Anthem problems started, the NFL’s viewership has dropped significantly. A large portion of the league’s base was insulted by the protests, and now refuses to tune in for the games. ESPN knows that this issue will hurt their ratings, so they are trying to help.
However, not airing the anthem isn’t likely to help, and ESPN fully knows this. Pitaro said that the policy might change, and added:
“It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but as courtesy and good partners we have let them know what our plans are.”
This tactic did not help cool down the issue last season and it will likely do nothing this year. Not broadcasting the anthem does very little when ESPN commentators talk about the issue on a daily basis. The company is left-leaning and tends to support the protests. Outrage over the protests will continue this season and the NFL has not been successful in stopping it. ESPN’s help will do very little.
Ratings will likely continue to drop this season for the NFL. The protests, along with cord-cutting, will be the two major reasons behind this. Unfortunately, only one of those problems can be solved.