DENVER (CBS4) – It seems as though everyone watches the NFL.
Some, though, are beginning to turn the channel, as more and more national anthem protests occur before games.
“Sports used to not be a stage for this, and now it is, so I’m turning it off,” James Olson told CBSDetroit.com.
Olson is not alone.
Opening night’s Panthers vs. Broncos game earlier this month had 25.2 million viewers, according to Forbes, which was by far the largest viewership in television that night, or any night that week, but it was down 8 percent from the year before and down 6 percent compared to 2014.
Sunday Night Football viewership has also been down.
The SNF matchup between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals saw 20.65 million total viewers, which is an 18 percent decline from the Sunday Night Football opener last year, and 16 percent less than their 2014 opening game.
Sunday afternoon opening weekend games didn’t fare any better, either, with the lowest opening weekend ratings in seven years.
“You start to figure out you can get along without football, there are other things out there I can do,” Olson said.
A #boycottNFL hashtag has also surfaced on Twitter, as users voice both their opinions on the protests.
But are the lower numbers simply a result of the protests?
Forbes points out that it could also have something to do with the lack of star power.
Peyton Manning retired from the Broncos, and both New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were sidelined for the game against the Cardinals.
For Olson, it’s not about the star players.
“You can do this on our own time,” he said. “Rent a stage somewhere and see if you can get a crowd of 70,000 people.”
“This is our only platform to really be heard,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has said. “And I feel a lot of times people want us to shut up and entertain them, shut up and play football. But we have voices as well. We’re actually educated individuals that went to college. So when we have an opinion and we speak it, I feel a lot of people bash us for what we have to say.”
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While viewership is down, the opening night game did still have more than 25 million people watching for the fourth consecutive year. By comparison, “The Walking Dead,” the most-watched show on television, averages around 14 million live viewers.