Survey: National anthem protests are the main reason fans tuned out NFL in 2016

Dolphins players, from left, Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills kneel during the singing of the national anthem before a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 11, 2016.
(Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

Colin Kaepernick isn’t currently in the NFL, but the free agent quarterback’s saga might be the most talked-about topic in the league.

J.D. Power released a report Thursday saying that protests during the national anthem — for which Kaepernick is well-known — is the No. 1 reason NFL ratings and game attendance dipped last season.

The finding is part of the J.D. Power 2017 Fan Experience Study, measuring customer satisfaction among fans of major pro sports teams. According to the report, 30% of football fans said protests during “The Star-Spangled Banner” were the main reason their NFL viewership and/or attendance declined.


Compared to 2015, NFL TV ratings dipped 9% during the regular season and 6% in the playoffs.

Among the other reasons cited were game delays — including penalties, excessive commercials and presidential election coverage — and off-field player issues, such as domestic violence. The findings are broken down by 11 markets. Fans in Miami (38%), New York (37%) and Washington, D.C., (32%) took most offense to protests during the national anthem.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable on Thursday gave Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, an award for outstanding achievement in sports and civil rights activism.

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer