Accuracy in Media

Papa John’s Pizza owner John Schnatter blamed the NFL national anthem controversy this week for a $70 million decline in sales during the last quarter, but the mainstream media was having none of it.

Slate’s story, headlined, “Papa John’s Blames Falling Sales on NFL Players Kneeling During the National Anthem (Seriously),” conceded “there is a tiny, tiny micro-speck of logic at work here, in that Papa John’s is a major NFL advertiser and NFL ratings are down this year.

“Ratings have been getting better by the week, and there’s very little reason to believe the overall drop has anything to do with protests during the national anthem given that pro football is not the only sport that has suffered viewership declines during the cord-cutting era. In any case, ‘police brutality protests are ruining my pizza business’ is not really an idea anyone should ever express out loud.”

And, of course, in case you didn’t know … “It may not surprise you to learn that John Schnatter is a big Republican donor.”

First, we are left to wonder what difference it makes Schnatter gave $1,000 to the Trump campaign last year.

Second, last weekend was the lowest ratings of the season. The problem is getting worse, not better. And claims the anthem has nothing to do with this because ratings have declined more in blue states than red states holds little water because many “blue states,” such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, no longer may be so reliably blue, and football always has been more popular in the red states of the deep South.

While other factors contributed to the decline in NFL viewership, league officials worry about oversaturation with games every Thursday and, on multiple Sundays, games in London – which means an NFL Sunday now starts at 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast.

They’re also concerned that streaming services and highlights channels, such as RedZone, which shifts from game to game during NFL Sundays to show teams threatening to score, have contributed to a decline.

Cord cutting also plays a part. Seventy-nine percent of American homes get some kind of paid-TV service, down from 84 percent in 2014. As a result, the four networks that show NFL games — CBS (-9 percent), Disney-ESPN (-4 percent), NBC Universal (-6 percent) and Fox (-2 percent) – have all seen overall ratings decline over the last month.

How much of that relates to the NFL’s problems is unknown, but NFL ratings were down more than 10 percent in the early weeks of the season. They are still 5 percent behind last year, which also marked a hefty decline attributed by most experts to the presidential election.

But Schnatter said Papa John’s is identified more strongly with the NFL than the league’s other sponsors, and that the controversy generated by players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem created “negative consumer sentiment” that led to lower sales.

Rick Gentile, a former CBS Sports executive who now runs a nationwide poll on sports issues at Seton Hall University, agreed the protests have become a huge factor.

Seton Hall polled 850 people in the last week of September and found half were watching the same number of games as in the past, but 29 percent were watching fewer – a startling number for a league that has seemed to defy ratings gravity. Of those who watched fewer games, 47 percent said it was because of the protests – by far the most common answer given.

“I was in denial for a while,” Gentile said. “But every time we asked the question, ‘Why do you watch fewer games?’ it came back the same way – the protests.”

So the protests may not be the sole cause of Schnatter’s problems, but it is more than a micro-speck of them, too.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said. “But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”

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  • John Wirts

    Well Papa John’s to me your course is clear, remove all advertising from their NFL and news media that is saying it’s all your own fault! Perhaps when THEIR revenue falls they will wake up!

  • Richard Schmidt

    Professional sports is an oxymoron.

  • Terry R. Campbell

    Wow, these idiots know more about Papa John’s business and what he thinks more then he does! What an amazing feat that is! Especially since they saw Hillary winning in their magical crystal ball. Also, you see the other lie, ratings are going up! Patriotism is alive and well! Sorry media!

  • samo war
  • Orange

    People don’t watch football because…
    The sun was in my eyes.
    My little sister flushed the remote down the toilet.

  • Tannim

    There’s actually a very simple reason why Papa John’s sales are tanking:

    More people realize their pizza simply sucks.

  • Tannim

    An oxymoron is your acne-treated face.

  • Gene Williams

    Just keep propping up the protesters, see where that leads. America is tired of being disrespected and we are saying it with our wallets. I unsubscribed to my Papa John’s on line account and told them why. All this clamor for a false RACE CARD narrative that police target black people. Police target criminals, if those criminals are black…well, so be it.

  • Gene Williams

    WOW. Snappy come back. Got any more? Maybe “Am too” or “Are not”

  • Red

    Is this is same media, that KNEW that President Trump would never be elected president?

  • mattzcat

    Fake news, fake polls, and propaganda. I cut the cord, too.

  • Robert Kaufman

    Gee, certain ideas “are not really idea[s] anyone should express out loud, huh? Welcome to the new freedom of speech — you have the freedom to agree with the extreme left and everything else is prohibited as “hate speech.” Papa John is a major NFL sponsor, NLF attendance, memorabilia, and viewing on TV are all down nearly 40%, people are calling for boycotting of the NFL and its sponsors, and, during the same time frame and after years of good profits, they are now down 70%. I would say that Papa John’s conclusions have a bit more than a “tiny, tiny microspeck of logic.” The evidence, while not conclusive, is certainly compelling. The media is in denial. The public does not like them or their ideas, or the protests for that matter, and is within its rights to refuse to patronize the product and its sponsors. What will the players say when, in a short time, the owners say, “Sorry, but there is not enough money for those exorbitant salaries we used to pay you”? Oh, well, they’ll probably go back to college and learn a useful trade, skill, or profession.”

  • Carolyn

    Who gives a rat’s a** what the media thinks? I guarantee you the Papa John’s founder was correct in why they lost money. We fans have not only boycotted watching these spoiled millionaire thugs play ball, but we are boycotting all the sponsors as well. Eventually these jerks will understand what it means to disrespect our country and our flag — when it hits their pocketbooks!!!

  • Allen Wood

    If and when they do that, we should all reward them by buying pizza from them. It will send a message to them AND to the NFL and their fake news lackeys.

  • locogolfer

    I bought Coors instead of Bud, Progesso instead of Campbell’s, and any other alternative to those sponsors that support the disrespect the overpaid ($465,000 minimum) crybabies show for our flag, our anthem, our military, our veterans and our country. NFL-GO TO HELL!

  • Howard Share

    I Personally will Never eat Pizza at Pappa John’s while they support the NFL or Anti Americans. Screw all the Advertisers and Supporters of the NFL. Hopefully these Football Players will soon realize that Real Americans won’t support any Anti Americans. Those Football Players who Don’t Salute or Support the American Flag should be thrown off the Team and Banned,
    as they are Slime Buckets who should be in Jail for all the Criminal things they have done.

  • sweetsuzee

    I’m on the other side in that I never had an account I had nothing to unsubscribe. However, when they withdrew their sponsorship I notified them via their website that I will forevermore go out of my way to buy their pizza over others.

  • sweetsuzee

    I’ve been a lifelong Campbell’s soup person but am a happy little camper since having discovered Progresso thanks to the NFL and their stupidity. The “chicken & sausage gumbo” is to die for. I had the “beef barley” for lunch today.

  • Paulette Hendrix

    There are several reasons why I and my whole household boycott the NFL. # one is the protests which remind me greatly of spoiled children having a tantrum. They are using their fame to protest shootings of blacks by police but they don’t protest and whine when a cop gets killed by a black person (or anyone else) that they are trying to apprehend. #2 They get paid phenominal sums of money to play a game , more money in one year’s contract than most people who watch the games they play will make in a lifetime with two household members working. #3 They have a right to protest anything they want to shouldn’t be allowed to do it on company time. Nurses, doctors, teachers, etc are not allowed to protest while they are working. # 4 and last if they hate America enough to denigrate the flag and national anthem then they need to leave the country . Besides all that they now have a Thursday night game on CBS which preempts Jeopardy even though it is shown at 7:30 and the kickoff is at 8:00

  • Richard Schmidt

    Papa Johns should build better pizza instead of blowing millions on TV Advèrtising. Buy from your local neighborhood pizza parlor. Screw these outfits that produce tasteless pizza which is made from the same ingredients as the carton it arrived in.