Are Millennials Losing Interest in the NFL?

This article and infographic is a guest contribution of writer Tami Cruz

The NFL was once a giant in the eyes of most Americans, but that is slowly changing. A new generation is set to take over the United States – Millennials – and they are not nearly as interested in American football as their generational predecessors.

One might imagine that this spells trouble for the organization, but it is opportunity for growth and change.

Why are Millennials Not interested in Football?

There is no clear reason why a large number of Millennials are not tuning in to football as previous generations did. Some say it has to do with trust issues that many in this group have toward the NFL in general. Sixty one percent of this group thinks the NFL is a sleazy organization.

This could be due to the possibility of many NFL officials covering up head traumas that can lead to disorders later on in life.

[bctt tweet=”Survey: 61% of Millennials think the NFL is a sleazy organization #sportsbiz” username=”workinsports”]

Another thing to look at is that some Millennials are beginning to consider competitive sports irrational. Some see competitive sports as an activity that seeks to demean those with less talent.

What Can be Done?

There are many aspects of the NFL that need to be addressed in order to solve this issue. For one, it is imperative that the NFL tries to be as transparent as possible. Millennials respond well to corporate social responsibility and transparency.

Catering to this group also involves upgrading stadiums and the way that the sport is watched. Some stadiums are integrating full and free Wi-Fi in their establishments. This gives Millennials the opportunity to follow the game live and update social media accounts live as well.

[bctt tweet=”Are Millennials Losing Interest in the NFL? #sportsbiz” username=”workinsports”]

Active campaign managers should shine a light on the competitive nature of the sport. It might be time to show the human side of every sports person. Perhaps, the organization should communicate that the NFL supports its active players but also retired players as well.

Of course, these are just a few examples of what the organization can do to help its image. This does mean that the NFL is now looking for new ideas to solve the millennial problem. There is much more to explore, and it will need to happen soon since the millennial generation will be in power for a very long time. This sports organization can use this opportunity to evolve and show Millennials that it is on their side for the long haul.

Ohio University Online

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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  1. Eddie Jackson says


    • I hope your all caps response isn’t intended to yell at me Eddie – I am not your enemy! While I agree with your point, not sure it’s related to why millenials (15-35 year olds) aren’t as interested in the NFL

  2. The NFL is losing viewers because it is no longer a contact sport. Football use to be a fight. Now touching another player in the helmet is a penalty. All this no head to head is turning it into basketball. Receivers can just go up over the middle without fear of what a linebacker or safety might do. We lost the barbarity that made this game beautiful. Quit pampering Qb’s and Recievers. Quit getting rid of kickoffs. Go back to the fight. It was Americas Coliseum. Make it that again.

  3. Glenn Cantor says

    Millennials are not losing interest in the NFL. Rather, they are interacting with the NFL in ways that are not easily analyzed by traditional media measurement tools. For example, many of my friends view fantasty league results, without actually watching the games. Additional difficult-to-measure interactions include group watching (bars, restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings), online or mobile viewing, and the oft hush-hushed gambling. The product content is still great.

    • Not sure I agree – bar watching and scraping in for fantasy results have always been there — we’re seeing a different shift than before and it’s interesting to note.

  4. There was a time when circuses and zoos were cool because they were novel. Where else can you see a sea lion? Oh, and this one knows how to balance a beach ball? Awesome! Many people watched the moon landing for the same reason, but the space race is over and NASA is not a thing anymore.The novelty wears off. Via the Internet, we can visit other places and interact with other people from around the globe. We can see people doing amazing and stupid things. Our world shrinks. One day we realize that only the US plays in the “World” Series and that the Cavaliers aren’t really “world” champions because Romania and Peru never got a chance to play. We discover that “America” is actually a continent and that “football” is a totally different sport to the rest of the world. We begin to see organized sports as a business – not as an extension of our collective identity. Hank Aaron, Joe Montana and Dr. J have left the building. Yes, the novelty wears off.

    • nice rant…even if it isn’t all that accurate. 113 of the 450 players on NBA roster are international, and there is no limit on the number of players from Peru and Romania that can play in the NBA if they had the talent to do so. It is the worlds best league and the worlds best players come to compete there. Same for baseball 243 of the 856 athletes on the roster of major league teams were from somewhere other than the US. Again, the best league in the world, the best players. Win the World Series, FACT you have the best team in the world. Yes our world shrinks and we realize there are other things out there, but you lost me on your “they aren’t really world champions” argument. And if that is your argument, it would still hold under Hank Aaron, Joe Montana and Dr. J…sounds like you are just being nostalgic here. – Brian

  5. Nonsense says

    This article is nonsense. I’ll give you a much shorter analysis than this article. Video games. Millennials are far more interested in video games than sports. Just look into Esports numbers, or actual video game sales as a whole — they are gigantic. I know older generations try to come up with excuses as to why millennials are watching and playing less sports, but that is the real reason. Video games have even captured the lower class children, as there are plenty of great video games that are free to play now. League of Legends is a prime example of this.

    • Ok. I think there are still plenty of kids that get outside and do something other than video games — but if you’d like to believe the video games are ruling the millenial class so be it, not going to argue a pointless argument. – Brian

  6. Speaking for myself, a 40 year old lifelong NFL fan. I used to count the off-season days till kickoff. Growing up my Sundays revolved around the watching my team play. This year however, I find that my attitude is changing to the point of not even wanting to watch at all. Having to tune in for what amounts to a game that has evolved into referee intervention on nearly every other play. The rules have been changed to favor the Offense so much that a team can no longer be successful without an elite quarterback. 2017 has basically been named the Patriots super season. They lucked into drafting Tom Brady years ago and now a 40 year old is the best player ever. He is a great player, but there is no way a 40 year old player has that success in what was once a competetively balanced league.

    Now that is my position but doesn’t really point to millennial disinterest. I see a comparison to soccer viewing is in order. Although I hardly ever tune into a soccer game, millennials are embracing it more than previous generations. I attribute this mainly to the continuous flow of the game. It is not interrupted every 2-3 minutes with commercials. The NFL needs to look into a way to speed up its game play. Too many stoppages of play and too many commercials.

    • Good stuff Chad — not much I disagree with in there! – brian

    • Definitely agree with Chad here. I’m 35, technically a first yr millennial. I grew up watching and loving the NFL and college football. I would get excited over preseason games in August but last year something changed.

      I don’t know if you can pinpoint it to one issue but I know with the advent of Netflix and on demand streaming services, I’m now accustomed to being entertained without breaks or an over-saturation of commercials.

      I read an article a few years ago stating that in your average football or baseball game, there is only roughly 12 mins of actual game action in the span of 3 hours. This did not include the dead time during huddles or in between pitches. I went to a Falcons game last yr and distinctly remember how bored I was becoming during the game because of the commercial breaks and time between plays. I’d never realized the amount of dead time until recently.

      I’m also a huge soccer fan, grew up playing the sport and have season tix to Atlanta United. What you come to learn about soccer is even though there’s not much scoring compared to other American sports, there’s constant action to keep your attention. And Atlanta United matches are by far one of the best sporting events I’ve ever attended because of the energy that is constant throughout the 90 mins of play.

      It’s easier for me to just check in on the NFL scores through my phone and check out the highlights later than sit down and spend 3 hours of my day being entertained by 12 mins worth of action.

      I don’t know, just my two cents

    • Mario Castillo says

      I agree 100% with you Carlton, same reason I stop watching the NFL now I got season tickets to the Dynamo.

  7. Chelsea Hand says

    I think you hit some really good points but one thing people tend to overlook in millenials is their sales resistance. We grew up in a time when marketing companies had more access to our information and more avenues to sell us their products. A time when you have to say “no” to applying for a credit card at least three times in any store you go to. Companies have gone away from focusing on loyal, returning customers and have gone toward volume. Quantity not quality. NFL markets itself with words like tradition, uniting and family… but we’re not buying. Maybe the NFL used to have some of those qualities but we millenials don’t see those things. We see a non-profit organization making rich men richer (talking about owners more than players). We see an organization that cares more about expanding their market internationally so those rich men getting richer can get richer faster and disregarding player safety and integrity of the game. And now you can’t hardly watch even a preseason game without subscribing to NFLN which is a clever way to get people to pay $100 to be bombarded with ads and product placement between plays. The NFL has become far too greedy and as much as I LOVE my football sundays, I’m starting to have a really hard time supporting them. Perhaps millenials don’t have as much love for football, but I think that the NFL lost their love of the game first.

    • Chelsea, good points, but they’ve been around forever. Crazy bombardment of credit card offers aren’t a millenial generation thing…trust me. Volume advertising, record broadcast deals, huge player contracts, greedy owners, international expansion — not new. The NFL has played games in Mexico city since 1978 and London since 1983. And NFL network and directTV are an opportunity to see more games if you want, not a mandate. As a Gen X’er myself we only got the games that were broadcast locally, so those out of market games weren’t an option even if we wanted to pay $100. If Cheifs- Buccaneeers was your local game…that’s it, that’s what you get. Now you have an option to see what you want to see, which is a good thing!

      You may represent the first generation to tune out rather than ignore the noise… but the scenarios you present have always been present. – Brian

  8. Roger Daltrey says

    I’m 63 years old and rarely ever meet people that care that much for Football or sports of any kind and that includes millenials..i don’t think younger people really get in to football like older people between 45 and my age.Younger people seem to be have lost interest in more than just football and many i don’t think had interest in football to begin with… Young people i run into have interests that are internet related..They also don’t seem as personal as people were years ago.Basically they seem to be narcissistic …into themselves..I see these young people in public every night taking selfies in just plain casual situations..In Denny’s..The park..But Football doesn’t seem to be one of their interests.


  1. […] This article and infographic is a guest contribution of writer Tami Cruz The NFL was once a giant in the eyes of most Americans, but that is slowly changing. A new generation is set to take over the United States – Millennials – and they are not nearly as interested in American football as their […] – Sports Career Blog […]