Hey NFL Want Better Ratings? Put More Women in Charge

By John Gerzema, CEO The Harris Poll |

It’s the Super Bowl again and, across America, we’re wolfing down wings and beer as we cheer on The Patriots, Eagles (or just the ads). But while The Super Bowl is an annual ratings bonanza, overall viewership of the NFL was down nearly 10% this year. Part of this decline has been attributed to the politics that crept into the nation’s favorite pastime. A recent Harris Poll found the majority of Americans did not approve of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the crisis.

Last week we conducted another poll to assess people’s relationships with the NFL—from fandom and viewership to ways to improve the game. And the most surprising finding is that nearly half of Americans (46%) want more women in leadership positions in the NFL. While the numbers asking for diverse management are higher among women (51%) than men (41%), 43% of Americans in general say more women in leadership positions in the league would increase viewership. And a majority of American women believe more representation in NFL leadership would boost the league’s success, while 48% of women say that having more female leaders will increase viewership.

A recent Reuter’s study found that women represent nearly half of The NFL’s audience and according to  To The Star Tribune, (the hometown paper of today’s Super Bowl City), women are the fastest growing segment of the NFL’s fan base, with 86 million tuning in last season. The NFL is responding. The Star/Trip reports that 100 women are working at EVP levels or above across the NFL’s 32 teams and even one referee on the field. But our poll suggests the league has a great story to tell America––that women are remaking The NFL for the better.