- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2018

The Super Bowl has long been viewed as must-see TV, but a newly released poll shows that a growing number of NFL fans are losing interest.

A Seton Hall University poll released Thursday found that 16 percent of those who “closely follow” the NFL won’t watch Super Bowl LII, which features a match-up between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

At the same time, only 54 percent of those surveyed said they planned to watch the game, down from 68 percent two years ago.

“16% of people who identify themselves as NFL fans is a significant number and reflects the trend of declining ratings that we’ve seen all season,” said poll director Rick Gentile in a statement. “That this seems to be impacting Super Bowl viewership should be a concern to the league, the broadcasters and especially the advertisers.”

Why the drop in interest? The poll didn’t ask, but the refusal by some players to stand for the national anthem as a protest against social injustice could be a factor.

Only 28 percent of those surveyed said they approved of players protesting during the national anthem during the regular season, while 46 percent said they disapproved and 25 percent had no opinion.

The NFL saw its television ratings fall by 9.7 percent in the 2017 season from the previous year. In 2016, the first year of the take-a-knee protests, ratings were down by 8 percent.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted by the Sharkey Institute at the Stillman School of Business, surveyed 706 adults on landlines and cell phones from Jan. 29-31, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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