Speed Reads

Super Bowl LII

The NFL has a very, very good reason to be 'freaking out'

The National Football League has been in trouble for a while, but a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll illustrates just how bad things really are. Within a four-year period, men aged 18 to 49 who say they "closely" follow the NFL has dropped from 75 percent to 51 percent. That represents a major chunk of the sport's main demographic.

"If I'm the NFL I'm freaking out about that a little bit," said Republican pollster Micah Roberts. "They are the very core of the football-viewing audience. If they're retreating, then who's left?"

While the NFL has become increasingly political, between high-profile protests during the national anthem and concerns about head injuries, the decline is seen across the spectrum. "Base Democrats who follow the league closely fell by 16 points versus four years ago, while it was 14 points for base Republicans," The Wall Street Journal writes.

The Super Bowl, though, is still by far the largest televised event in the United States. Last year's was the fifth most-watched broadcast in TV history, Quartz reports. Read more about how even that viewership might be stalling, and if the $5 million ad spots during New England Patriots' game against the Philadelphia Eagles are worth it, at The Week.