Automakers are by far the biggest-spending advertisers on National Football League broadcasts. So are they worried about the league's dip in TV ratings this season?
The NFL long has been a ratings juggernaut that seemed impervious to the public's evolving TV-viewing habits, including the growth of streaming TV and a rising number of cord-cutters who shun costly cable subscriptions. And analysts are quick to point out that the NFL is still a perennial ratings leader.
Still, automakers such as Hyundai Motor Co. -- which has a prestigious league sponsorship deal -- and Nissan are watching closely as America's favorite TV sport shows rare signs of vulnerability.
Through the first month of the season, Nielsen found that the 31 nationally aired prime-time NFL games it measured were viewed in an average of 9.7 percent of households, down from last season's average of 11 percent. In an analysis of Nielsen data from the first five weeks of the season, Pivotal Research Group found that NFL viewing time per person was down 15 percent.
Hyundai landed the prized NFL sponsorship in 2015 and has been happy with the arrangement thus far. The automaker's push to reach mass audiences comes at a pivotal time as it attempts to increase awareness and build momentum for the upscale Genesis brand, the official luxury brand of the NFL.