NFL ratings are down – is it impacting Buffalo Wild Wings?

Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the many companies that relies on a boom from football fans.
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NFL ratings are down, and that is bad news not just for TV channels, but potentially thousands of American businesses that rely on the sport's popularity.

CNBC reports ratings for the league have slid 12 percent in the 2016 season compared to last year – with a whole host of possible reasons (the election, concussion issues, the anthem protests, and more) listed.

However, after analyzing viewer data, CNBC concluded the NFL actually has more unique viewers this year. But the decline in ratings is coming because they are spending less time watching football – viewing 9 games a year on average compared to almost 10 last year.

The news channel also notes the NFL has not been traditionally good at tracking how many people go out to bars to watch games – which brings us to Buffalo Wild Wings.

The effect on BWW

Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the many companies that relies on a boom from football fans.

The Minnesota-based chain's big TVs, beer and wings make it a popular venue for game watching. So is the apparent downturn in football ratings having an effect to B-dubs?

Opinion seems to be divided.

As of right now, things seem to be going just fine, with the New York Post reporting that while ratings have slumped, the teams that are doing well are helping the chain in some of its most popular markets – including the 5-1 Minnesota Vikings.

Third quarter sales were down, but the company didn't place the blame on the NFL.

"This year, we’ve got Minnesota playing well, Dallas is playing well, and out in LA you’ve got the Rams — having moved back to LA — and the Oakland Raiders are having a good season so that helps to lift some of our bigger markets," Chief Operating Officer Jim Schmidt told analysts last week, the New York Post notes.

"If you look at our trends so far — now we’re still early in the season — you really don’t see a difference in sales performance when you look at NFL days versus non-NFL days. So that would at least suggest we’re not seeing any dramatic impact."

More risk long-term

So the popularity of winning teams is helping things in the short-term, but Business Insider is among the publications suggesting there could be trouble ahead for the company if the lower ratings become part of a long-term trend.

The website describes the NFL as a "huge sales driver" for B-dubs, and even small changes to the league schedule can have a major impact on the chain.

"We believe any decline in NFL viewership, if sustained, is likely to have a pronounced negative effect on traffic at Buffalo Wild Wings," Maxim Group analyst Stephen Anderson wrote before Buffalo Wild Wings' earnings announcement last week.

AOL reports that also at risk are pizza and wing chains such as Papa John's, which rely on the NFL to help boost sales.

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