Another possible headache for the NFL to go along with its 11% Nielsen ratings drop so far this season: overall consumer perception of the league is down significantly from a year ago.
Questions around player safety, the "Deflategate" controversy and players’ off-field troubles corresponded to dips in consumer perception of the league over the past two years. These controversies seem to have allowed Major League Baseball to dominate consumer perception between the two sports since late 2014.
This time last year, the NFL was close to its highest perception mark for 2015, well into positive territory and the highest it had been in over a year. Since then, the league's consumer perception generally trended down, tracking around neutral with equal positive and negative feedback. A recent move down in the past week is likely associated with media coverage of the Josh Brown spousal abuse.
The NFL began this season with slightly higher perception levels than last year’s new season. But while perception climbed significantly throughout most of fall 2015, this year’s scores have been considerably weaker.
To measure consumer perception, YouGov BrandIndex utilized its Buzz score, which asks respondents "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
Buzz score can range from 100 to -100, with a zero score equaling positive and negative feedback. All measurements are for adults 18 and over.
One year ago, the NFL’s Buzz score was 16 compared to its present score of zero. Major League Baseball’s current Buzz score is 15. Last year, the NFL reached its highest Buzz score on November 7th with a 17.