Brands are threatening to pull ads from NFL coverage if NBC keeps covering players' national anthem protests

  • NBCU says that marketers want the league to stop covering the players’ anthem protests or they will pull their ads.
  • The media company believes the controversy of the protests has hurt ratings.

Marketers have put NBCUniversal on notice: stop covering the NFL player protests or we’ll pull our ads.

That’s according to Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales at NBCU, who spoke during a keynote interview at an event held Friday in New York at the ad agency RGA.

Yaccarino said that no advertisers have pulled out of NFL games due to the ongoing national anthem protests. But advertisers are telling the network that will change if they don’t stop showing players kneeling every week.

Marketers have said, “we will not be part of the NFL if you continue covering it,” Yaccarino said.

This season and last, a growing number of NFL players have chosen to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the player’s actions.

There’s been a lot of debate over whether the protests are the cause of recent NFL ratings dips. But earlier this week, Yaccarino’s rival, CBS CEO Les Moonves, expressed confidence in the NFL as an advertising vehicle, reporting that no marketers have pulled out, Ad Age reported.

During her interview Yaccarino on Friday, Yaccarino said that while it’s hard to say for certain, “I do think it has impacted the ratings.”

Going forward, marketers want more focus on games and less on protests. Yaccarino said that the NFL’s broadcast partners have not always aired the national anthem for each game. That is, until the protests took on legs.

“The story has morphed dramatically,” she said.

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