“Too Big To Fail”
It’s an interesting conversation point as we move thru the mid-season point of the NFL schedule.
It has been a season so far of sagging football ratings.
Every broadcast partner the NFL has, has seen ratings drop anywhere from 10% to an alarming 24% thru the first eight weeks of the season.
Theories abound, but it might take till January to get a better handle on the whys and wherefores.
But in this first half of the 2016 campaign, the NFL has endured the worst Monday Night TV rating of all time, and that covers some 45-seasons of Monday Night football, pioneered by Cosell-Meredith-Gifford.
The newly minted Thursday Night package, a split between the NFL Network and a regular network partner, is down from a year ago, on a weekly basis.
The Sunday Night package with Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth is off on almost a weekly basis.
And the primetime CBS and Fox games on Sunday are running behind week to week from what they were a year ago.
Pick an explanation-excuse, and many are valid, some void of rationale.
America is spending more time watching Trump TV, the ongoing war with Hillary Clinton and the topics that swirl and churn on a weekly basis. Probably some truth in that. Politics ahead of football, but maybe some election fatigue setting in.
The NFL has spread its product across so many platforms, there are now lots of ways to watch games, or to get highlights. Alot of truth in that.
Direct TV has become a household item for fans who don’t go to see the hometown team. For every fan that watches the Steelers or Cowboys or their favorite team on Direct TV, that’s one less viewer for Neilsen to survey watching regular network games.
The NFL Red Zone has become a favorite. Give me my big plays and nothing else, and links itself with those playing fantasy football. Why sit thru 3-hours plus of games and commercials and penalty flags, when I can get the highlite plays.
The NFL’s ventures into streaming, apps, different ways to get access to games, means people aren’t going to watch the network telecasts on a regular basis.
And in our microwave world of ‘I need the score and the data’, and you can get that lots of ways, the flow of information is greater, and the need to see is less of a demand now.
There are other items, but I think of lesser reasons, for declining ratings. I doubt the concussion lawsuits have anything to do with this numbers.
I doubt the penalty flags, and there are lots of them, and instant replay stops, damage the game much. It’s all part of the action.
It may be the length of the games is a detterrant, between all the commercials, plus the game stoppages for injuries, flags and under the hood experiences, games are going as much as 3-and-a half hours.
The NFL calendar could be part of it. What was a Sunday-Monday sport, has now spread to Thursday too. Couple that with the overload of college football on television, and maybe fans are at the overload-saturation point.
Of major concern should be the product on the field. Are there many great teams left in the NFL, that you have to see?
Does Tampa Bay-Atlanta on Thursday night thrill anyone? Does seeing the Bears play on Monday night mean much anymore? Are there too few good teams to be spread around to the network partners?
In essence, less marquee games than ever before.
It’s a tough call. The TV deal is an 8B a year financial windfall. Yes the NFL gets its money for now, but what about the next round of negotiations.
Lost in all the discussion, the NFL is double dipping everywhere. They should not complain about falling TV ratings, because not only are they getting the big network check, look what they haul in via Direct TV, and now all their streaming partners, and its own NFL media outlet.
But they should be scared, because the paydays may be about to change, when contracts come up for renewal with their partners..
The NFL better evaluate content, quality of play, quality of teams, the injury factor, plus all the black mark things off the field that seem to be surrounding the game itself.
Roger Goodell and the people at NFL-Park Avenue, have a growing problem on its hands. The Banks on Wall Street had similari issues. Look how that turned out.
“Too big to Fail?” Probably not. This isn’t Wall Street and the banking industry. But possibly a sport headed for some trouble, because the dollar values will change but the cost of being the NFL, salaries, insurance, health care and the game day experience, won’t.