2020 Sports Viewership Declines

For centuries, sports have captivated worldwide audiences with iconic events such as the Olympics, the World Cup and the Super Bowl. Over the years, the way sports are consumed has changed. Instead of having to see an event in person, or in the newspaper the next morning, people can watch games live from their TV or smartphone and even listen on the radio. However, there are a number of factors contributing to a noticeable decline in sports viewership.

Graph courtesy of Maury Brown, Forbes.com

The MLB experienced their least viewed World Series in league history. According to Forbes, Fox received a staggering 36% less viewers than the previous year. 2020 is of course most known for the coronavirus. Most of the viewership decrease can be explained by the pandemic, for it demands the attention of everyone which leads to less people watching sports.

Aside from television ratings, the most obvious reason for a lack of sports viewership is the absence of fans at games. Every sport has either strongly limited or completely prohibited the presence of fans at games. Even though some teams are allowing a limited number of fans in, the number is nothing compared to what it usually is. In fact, the Washington Wizards are not allowing any fans to attend their home games.

Although there is a lot going on in the world, a less-active sports fan base can be narrowed down to the individual.

“Sports have just become less and less entertaining as time goes on,” says Woodson junior and Washington Wizards fan Andrew Nguyen.

The NBA has also faced a significant decrease in ratings. In fact, the most anticipated part of the whole season, the NBA Finals, received 49% fewer viewers than the year before. One could explain the decrease in sports viewership with in-depth calculations, but the answer could be as simple as to what is currently happening in the world.

2020 was a very demanding year for everyone, but more specifically Woodson students. As a result, time has become more valuable. Nguyen says, “I know that I can do something else more productive with my time.” From online school to sports practices and other everyday tasks, time could maybe just be better spent handling responsibilities, which leads to a fading desire to tune in to sports.

One of the most prominent examples of sports affected by COVID is the NCAA. Due to a number of protocols to stay safe during the pandemic, there have been lots of inconsistencies within the league. For example, the college football season made its full course, but certain teams didn’t even get to play half of the games that other teams did. The college football playoff was between Ohio State, who had a record of 7-0, and Alabama, who had a record of 12-0. 

Woodson junior John Paek says, “Something that has made me less eager to watch sports is the fact that COVID has sat out my favorite team to watch.” Every professional sports league as well as their players have faced restrictions in order to follow health and safety protocols. It’s hard to maintain enthusiasm for a team with all of the uncertainties at hand.