"Monday Night Football" viewership has declined by 24 percent.

By Gillie Houston
Updated May 24, 2017
© Omer Yurdakul Gundogdu / Getty Images

The National Football League has recently seen a dramatic decline in ratings– and coaches, players, and referees aren't the only ones affected. For pizza and wing joints that depend on game day munchies, low ratings are bad for business.

According to The Washington Post, viewership of this season's NFL games has declined significantly, as watchers have been potentially turned off by the health concerns and scandals that have plagued the sport in recent years. Ratings for Thursday and Sunday night games are down by 18-19 percent, and "Monday Night Football" viewership has seen a 24 percent drop—a significant share of their audience.

While such a sharp decline in ratings will undoubtedly impact the league as a whole, restaurants specializing in game day favorites are also being hit hard by this trend. For national chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, the four weekly NFL game showings can account for upwards of 10 percent of fall profits, Grubstreet reports. Last year, the wing giant reported a fall sales drop of nearly a full percentage point merely due to the NFL season being cut one week shorter than usual, showing how significantly those game day sales figure into the bigger profit picture.

Despite it still being early in the 2016 football season, chains known for their game day grub have already seen their profits dip with viewership. Buffalo Wild Wings' sales slumped 1.6 percent, and Papa John's—the "official pizza sponsor" of the NFL—has also reported a drop in profits. On a more local level, ratings can make or break sports bars, which have been shown to be impacted by even tiny shifts in football viewership.

However, all hope is not lost for pizza joints across the United States, as many predict that the conclusion of the 2016 election on Tuesday will return viewers back to their Monday, Sunday, and Thursday night entertainment of choice. Until then, game day food specialists will just have to hold on by a wing and a prayer.