CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus Explains Why He Thinks NFL Ratings Are Making a Comeback

By A.J. Katz 

TVNewser is at the NAB Show at Jacob Javits Center in New York this morning, and the first session we attended was a Q&A with CBS Sports chairman (and former CBS News chief) Sean McManus.

McManus, CBS News president from 2005 – 2011, has not spoken out much since the sexual harassment scandals that shook up his company and led to the firings of his former colleagues CBS Corp. chairman Les Moonves and ex-CBS News chairman Jeff Fager. While McManus didn’t comment on those issues during the conversation, he did touch on the importance of sports television as it relates to American culture in 2018.

“I think with everything going on in the world today, people need sports more than they did in the past, and I think that’s reflected in the NFL ratings,” said McManus, who noted that NFL on CBS national games have been either flat or up year-over-year. “People are so tired of the divisiveness in this country, and so tired of all the political coverage, which to a large extent is very negative and very polarizing,” said McManus, who, from 2005-2011, was president of both CBS News and CBS Sports.

I think the opportunity to watch a football game on Sunday afternoon or Sunday night or Monday night or Thursday night, I think is a really good diversion for the American public,” McManus added.

Why else are NFL on CBS ratings flat or up?

“I think the National Anthem controversy, which was very prevalent the last two years, has to a large degree gone away, which I think helps,” said McManus. “And I think people are just enjoying NFL football, they’re enjoying the story lines,  great games that go down to the final possession, I think you’re going to generate huge numbers.”

McManus also touched briefly on the Super Bowl, which CBS Sports has the rights to this season.

“I can tell you that Super Bowl sales are very strong right now, there’s a lot of interest out there,” said McManus. “We all read what the price is going to be, we all read that it’s $5 million-plus, and that’s true…the Super Bowl is going to be a great way for us to end what I think is gong to be a very successful NFL season.”