The NFL’s consumer perception recently rebounded after a lackluster season where the league declined steadily to its lowest mark since August 2015. However, they face challenges from rival sports leagues encroaching on their public perception at a time when they should be rallying.
While nothing dramatically shook up this NFL season like the Ray Rice spousal abuse crises or Deflategate, the perception slump mirrors Nielsen ratings sliding 15% from the year before. Theories for the plunge range from a contentious election to oversaturation.
While the playoffs seem to have brought perception back to about the same mark as last year, the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are trending at similar levels. Unlike the NFL, the NHL and NBA are in the midst of their regular seasons, while baseball is in its off-season and still a few weeks away from spring training.
Last year’s Super Bowl gave the NFL a respectable boost that persisted for two weeks after the game. We’ll know in just over a week how this year will compare, but they are up against the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in more than one hundred years, which is the likely driver behind the MLB garnering the best perception score of all four sports since the NFL around Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014.
All four major professional sports leagues were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
The Buzz score can range from -100 to 100 with a zero score equaling a neutral position.