NFL Protests Could Hurt CBS, Wall Street Analyst Says

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"We view this weekend's viewership results as a ... proxy in determining whether the anthem debate may be a larger issue for the NFL."

A Wall Street analyst is advising his clients to bet against CBS in the short term, predicting that NFL ratings will fall this weekend due to the controversy involving players protesting the national anthem and the stock will fall.

Shawn Quigg of JPMorgan is recommending the purchase of CBS "puts" at $57.50, meaning he believes the stock will fall to less than that, while it closed Wednesday at $58.21.

The NFL's protest came to a head last week when President Donald Trump used the term "son of a bitch" to describe a random player who chooses not to stand during the anthem, and called on owners to fire such players. In response, hundreds of players knelt during the anthem before games on Sunday and Monday.

Quigg's thesis involves a spike in sales of fan gear related to Pittsburgh Steeler player Alejandro Villanueva, who stood with his hand over his heart during Sunday's national anthem at Chicago's Solider Field while the rest of his team stayed off the field entirely.

"If one uses player jersey sales as a proxy, fans appear to favor an on-field standing presence during the Anthem," Quigg said in a research note on Wednesday.

The analyst estimates that NFL ad revenue makes up 10 percent of CBS's total revenue. Television ratings declined last year, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the anthem protests, and have continued this year. They were down weeks one and two and up slightly week three.

"NFL-related revenue is not trivial to CBS, and any decline in NFL viewership related to the National Anthem debate may negatively affect future results," Quigg said in his note to clients. "We view this weekend's viewership results as a ... proxy in determining whether the anthem debate may be a larger issue for the NFL, and CBS, or not."

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