New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on winning, NFL ratings and the election

Kraft: Must look at big picture on TV ratings

Few owners in the National Football League have been as successful as New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft in the past two decades.

During CNBC's "Halftime Report" on Friday, he attributed the organization's consistency to a winning philosophy adopted by everyone in the building.

"Everybody in our organization puts winning first," Kraft said. "We have people check their ego in at the front door and do whatever they can do, whether it's the guy cutting the grass, or the young lady answering the switchboard, we're all putting 'team' first."

Under his leadership, the New England Patriots are currently the NFL's second-most-valuable franchise, valued at $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. During his tenure as owner, the Patriots have won more division titles (15), conferences titles (7) & Super Bowls (4) than any NFL team.

"We try to create an environment where we have a system where we're not dependent on any one person or party," Kraft said.

One factor the Patriots are dependent on, however, is the audience — a topic that's become a subject of discussion this season, especially.

Kraft serves as the chairman of the NFL's broadcast committee, which has seen the league's overall broadcast ratings decline 11 percent through the first six weeks of the season, year over year.

"You have to step back and look at the big picture," he said. "Over the last decade, our ratings are up roughly 30 percent, while broadcast prime-time ratings are roughly down 30 percent."

Kraft said the league realizes the amount of time viewers spend watching the game is about 10 to 15 percent less than usual. He attributed part of the drop to the competitiveness of prime-time games. The margin of victory has increased this year, he said, jumping to 13 points, compared to 6 or 7 points in the past.

He suggested the upcoming presidential election could also be playing a part in "exacerbating things," which makes it more difficult to truly evaluate the numbers until week 10 or 12 of the NFL season.

Kraft: Seeing uptick in our global business

Kraft is the chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, the holding company that includes the Kraft family's many businesses and more than 100 private equity investments.

He founded the Foxborough, Massachusetts-based company in 1998, and has since generated a net worth of roughly $5.2 billion, emphasizing six areas of focus:

  • Paper and packaging manufacturing and distribution of forest products
  • Sports, entertainment and event management (Gillette Stadium, Patriots, New England Revolution, & Patriot Place)
  • Construction and real estate development
  • Private equity and venture investing
  • Sustainability
  • Philanthropy

Kraft wouldn't say who he is supporting in the election, but said he would like to see a president who puts the country first.

"I hope ... that we start to have a country that comes together and really puts America first the way that we talked about putting 'team first,'" he said.

When asked about how the election has affected the Kraft Group, the company's chief executive said "things have been up, but very slow and steady." He said he's seen a bit of an uptick in Kraft Group's global business, and believes a price increase — driven by stronger demand — is about to come through in the industry.

Kraft said having zero interest rates has also affected the company, which has struggled to understand the impact of negative interest rates in other parts of the world. He added, however, that having low-cost money has helped them.

—CNBC's Vincent Caruso contributed to this report.