Turned off and tuned out: Hollywood and pro sports viewerships plummet
Americans are fed up with millionaire actors and athletes preaching to us about how bad our country is, and evidence for that disgust is everywhere we look.
We see bumper stickers slamming Hollywood, Facebook posts ripping the NFL and NBA, and most significantly we’re seeing epic declines in viewership across the board. Unfortunately, that backlash appears to be largely falling on deaf ears.
In 2016, the NFL made a conscious decision to condone the politically charged antics of a handful of their employees/players, and their ratings took a hit. Earlier this year, however, they decided to double down by actively participating in, and indeed ratcheting up, those efforts. We’ve seen similar approaches by MLB and the NBA, to the point that we can barely watch any of our team sports without being bombarded by politically tinged virtue signaling. And while Hollywood has been dominated by leftists for decades, they have taken that domination to new levels recently. There are few things more American than going to the movies or watching a ballgame, but unfortunately we can now add both to the growing list of traditions that the Left is succeeding in trying to destroy.
The entertainment corporation Cineworld recently announced that they would be shutting down all of their Regal Cinema movie theaters indefinitely. The move barely received a shrug from the Left, as they dismissed the news as just another casualty of COVID-19. But while the pandemic has clearly played a large role in the company’s current woes, attendance at movie theaters has been declining for several years now. Hollywood’s revenue last year was down almost 10% from 2018. And while we can certainly point to other causal factors such as online streaming, there is a clear and growing revulsion for Hollywood, too, and we need not look any further than the Oscars for evidence.
In early February, still weeks before the pandemic took hold; the Oscars telecast earned the lowest ratings in their history, only a few weeks after similarly poor ratings for the Golden Globes. Now eight months later, there is nothing significant to remember about the Oscars, and the only memorable moments from the Golden Globes are the snippets from Ricky Gervais’ monologue that we saw the following day. We particularly remember the way in which Gervais thoroughly trashed those in the audience for their arrogance and tone-deafness. “If you do win an award tonight,“ Gervais said, “don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything.” So, did Hollywood heed Gervais’ advice? Of course not.
In early-September, the Motion Picture Academy announced new standards for their “Best Picture” award, which are some of the most outrageous examples of “ wokeness” we have seen. The new standards include the requirement that a film has “at least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.” Because, that is absolutely what movie-goers want, don’t you know. We don’t care about the quality of a movie anymore; we just want that movie to be sufficiently woke. If Hollywood thought the ratings for the Oscars were low this year, just wait until 2021. Reruns of Friends will be kicking the snot out of them.
American professional team sports are seeing a similar drop in interest. The NBA finals had been a ratings bonanza since at least the mid-1980s when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson made every kid in the country want to pick up a basketball. Ratings have been declining in recent years, but this year’s ratings have absolutely plummeted, and like the Oscars, have been the worst in their history. So how is the NBA responding? They’re starting fights with U.S. senators.
During a recent Twitter feud between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and self-absorbed/self-righteous television personality and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, the mindset was clear for all to see. Cruz rightfully pointed out that the poor ratings were “not surprising,” closing with “#GoWokeGoBroke.” Cuban profanely shot back, calling Cruz, “full of sh*t,” then adding, “since when is a desire to end racism an insult to anyone or political?” In other words, senator, don’t you dare call out my league for calling our country systemically racist, we at the NBA are woke, damn you! We did see a glimmer of hope recently when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that they will discontinue putting social justice messaging on the courts and players’ jerseys; not much, perhaps, but maybe it’s a start.
The NFL began their season by playing “The Black National Anthem” before each game and adorning each end zone with social justice messaging. As a result, their ratings have continued plunging as they have for the past several seasons, with one game in week four down a remarkable 70% from last year. But Mike Florio from NBC Sports rejects any suggestion that the league’s politics has anything to do with it, exclaiming “to those who will respond to this item by chanting ‘go woke, go broke’ or whatever other catchphrase is currently being used… that’s a tired and inaccurate take.” Right Mike, and maybe if you close your eyes and click your heels, these bad ratings will have just been a bad dream.
To be fair, we must consider that there other factors that could be having an effect, and not just COVID. We do have a major election coming up which is distracting, and there aren’t fans at the games which takes away some of the appeal. Fair enough. But if those are driving factors that outweigh Americans’ resistance to woke culture, then why aren’t they affecting other sports? Ratings for golf, for instance, are up, with this year’s PGA Championship enjoying the best ratings in five years, and there were no spectators there, either. What about the Tour de France, which saw an 11% increase in viewership? Even professional wrestling, which arguably isn’t even a real sport, has seen solid ratings.
Is any of this good news? Of course not, it’s sad. The Boston Red Sox are one America’s iconic sports teams playing our national pastime, and they saw a jaw-dropping 54% freefall in their ratings this year. Not long ago, Sundays in October were the one day during the week when we could all put aside our differences and enjoy an NFL game in the family room, and then catch a movie at the theater with the kids after dinner. But with their relentless condescension, virtue signaling, and total disregard for their fans, Hollywood and professional team sports are hammering the nails in their own coffins.
We’re not asking you to be conservative, just keep politics out of it. If we want politics, we’ll tune to Fox News or MSNBC. But if we go to a movie, or if we turn on a playoff game, we want to focus on sports, not politics, and certainly not your leftist worldview. The longer fans are disengaged, the easier it becomes to stay away. And if the team sports elites and Hollywood don’t wise up soon, they’ll never get their fans back, and even more of the cultural ties that bind us will have been shredded.
P.F. Whalen is a conservative blogger at TheBlueStateConservative.com. His work has appeared in multiple publications, including American Thinker, the Western Journal, and Human Events. Follow him on Twitter at @pf_whalen.