The NFL is struggling to attract viewers — and that’s bad news for Buffalo Wild Wings.
NBC’s broadcast of “Sunday Night Football” saw a significant drop in ratings compared to its week three game in 2016.
The ratings decline came after President Trump encouraged teams to “fire or suspend” players who knelt during the national anthem, and for NFL fans to “refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country.”
Declining viewership isn’t a new problem for the NFL, as ratings were down an average of 8% over the course of last season. The league has struggled in recent years to attract viewers, with people blaming everything from the 2016 presidential election, to millennial cord-cutters, to excessive commercials.
When the NFL struggles, so does Buffalo Wild Wings.
Sporting events, especially football games, drive much of Buffalo Wild Wings’ sales, as sports fans flock to locations to watch the game or order out for home viewing parties.
In 2015, the company said that having one fewer week of football in the third quarter because of scheduling negatively affected same-store sales by 80 basis points (almost 1 percentage point). Last year, the company said that NFL games weren’t driving sales in the same way they historically had.
Buffalo Wild Wings — which didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment — is also dealing with complications beyond the NFL’s low ratings.
In July, the chain had to swap a popular wings deal with a boneless wings promotion as chicken prices hit historic highs. Buffalo Wild Wings has struggled to grow sales as the casual-dining industry has entered a slump. And, in June, CEO Sally Smith announced she was leaving the company after an activist investor triumphed in a monthslong battle for the wings chain’s board.
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