Some, as the Sporting News story notes, suggest that Americans are paying so much attention to the presidential election that they are watching news coverage instead of the games. There is no proof that these people are huffing paint, but the suggestion that people want to watch the two end products of this year's
A more realistic candidate for some of the loss is the number of people who "watch TV" via different streaming services, both legitimate and clandestine. The Nielsen people have as yet no good way to measure those numbers. Also, no few people are rather tired of the political noises athletes are making and the league's hypocrisy surrounding it -- Colin Kaepernick's police-as-pigs socks are OK, the Dallas Cowboys' request to wear a decal honoring Dallas police officers slain in an ambush is not, which brings up a six-letter question, "WTH, NFL?"
At Awful Announcing, another candidate is put forth: The 6:30 AM Pacific kickoff time for an upcoming Los Angeles Rams game being played in London. The NFL sticks a game in the 9:30 AM Eastern slot so it can open up another game window and increase its revenue. But when one of the teams in that slot is the Los Angeles Rams, that means that its main fanbase has to get up earlier than the chickens to watch their team play. And if you're a Rams fan living in Hawaii -- which you might be, since it's one of the teams closest to you geographically -- you could draw local law enforcement attention by cheering your kickoff too vigorously, since it'll happen at 3:30 AM your time. Broadcaster Al Michaels thinks oversaturation and stupidity like the gimmick "Color Rush" uniforms don't help.
You'd think that a sport which has been under scrutiny for safety and long-term health issues of current and former players would be doing some things to curry favor with its supporters, if for no other reason than to have someone argue their case from the barstools of America where public opinion is shaped. But the league seems to be concerned with only one set of fans: The deceased presidents and statesmen who adorn our currency. And if the way to get more of them is to sell a jersey that looks like kids' cereal no matter what that kind of move does to people who can't tell what's going on because their TV settings can't be adjusted to see what's going on, well, that's just too bad.