Bleacher report – The NFL is no stranger to the worst year of its existence.
It is the subject of a slew of controversies, including the suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the NFL’s investigation into the handling of the 2016 concussion crisis, and the emergence of an alleged bounty program.
The league has also had a reputation for its slow-moving and sometimes-baffling product, and has struggled to adapt to new technologies.
But for the first time in five years, the league is expected to be the No. 2 or 3-most popular sports league in the United States by the end of 2021.
It’s been a rough year for the NFL, with both its ratings and viewership plummeting.
The ratings for the 2018 season were down 4% from the previous year, with viewership down 5%.
According to Nielsen, the 2018 NFL regular season was the least-watched on television in history, with only one NFL game (Sunday Night Football) on the network for a combined 18.6 million viewers.
The 2017 regular season also fell short of last year’s record viewership, when it averaged 25.4 million viewers in prime time and 19.5 million in primetime, down 10% from 2016.
According to the Nielsen ratings, the 2017 regular seasons average viewership was the third lowest of any NFL season in the past 30 years.
In 2017, the season averaged a 17.6 rating in the 25-to-54 age demographic, down 3% from last year.
The NFL has a very low ratings base compared to the rest of the sports media, but it does have a strong brand.
Its brand power is not only measured by the number of advertisers paying to air NFL games on the NFL Network, but by the brand recognition that its players and coaches get from fans.
The league’s most popular players have been embroiled in controversy recently, and some of its players have had to apologize for their actions.
On Wednesday, Tom Brady was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
On Thursday, former Ravens quarterback Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely for his role in a domestic violence incident that was caught on tape.
In the wake of the scandal surrounding the 2016 NFL Concussion Concussion Legacy Fund, the New York Times reported that the NFL was “stealing” $1 billion of revenue to fund the program.
Last week, the Baltimore Ravens were fined $1 million for defying the NFL rule requiring players to wear a helmet.
This year, the suspension and fine of Patriots player Wes Welker has added to the drama surrounding the league.
Welker was suspended two games for the alleged assault of a New Jersey woman.
The Ravens also suspended receiver Steve Smith, who was the first player to make an apology to the woman, after he was found to have a marijuana pipe in his locker.
Former NFL quarterback Tony Romo was suspended four games for his involvement in a sexual assault case against an Arizona woman.
On Monday, former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was arrested for allegedly attempting to rob a Florida woman of her cell phone, a crime that has sparked a nationwide conversation about gun violence and police brutality.