— SportsCast (@SportsCast_THN) October 18, 2016
Well another week of NFL games are done, and of course another week of NFL ratings taking the dive. Now let me be clear. The ratings that are in “decline” for the NFL are not that bad for a live sporting event, they’re just bad for the NFL. Of course this issue has become a hot-take printing press that blames the election diverting our attention, or millennials watching E-sports over traditional ones like the NFL. The simple fact is that the NFL has actually done this too themselves.
The massive television contracts the NFL boasted about have become their main downfall. Mike Francesa said it best here. The NFL has destroyed its own product. First there is way too much football on now. Before I waited impatiently every week and would watch all I could on Sunday and then the one game on Monday. The NFL deciding that football needs to have more games with more teams is absurd thinking. Thursday games do not give enough time for rest and recovery, plus guaranteeing all teams a primetime game dilutes the product. Both of these things lead to bad football and lack of interest. Like besides the local audiences involved who really is going to be tuning into the Browns and Jags? Primetime audiences need stars and division leading teams. Most of these games do not have this. Plus who can really sit through an entire day of football. Because it has become an entire day thing. With the new introduction of the 1pm London time start. You actually now have football on from 9am-1130pm at night which is reckless. Hey I like football, but there’s no way I’m gonna sit and watch that much in one day.
The gameflow of the NFL has also become unbearable. The amount of delays that occur during a single game make it unwatchable. There are way too many commercials, and the challenge/scoring reviews that occur have become drawn out over simple calls. It’s one of the reasons why soccer in either the MLS or the EPL continues to increase its ratings in America. There is a constant pace of play. People complain that baseball is slow, it doesn’t compare to the NFL these days. The officiating is another big problem. Now I agree that their needs to be new rules to eliminate a lot of stuff in the NFL which will benefit the health of players. But most of these new penalties were created solely to give an advantage to offences to increase scoring. This has resulted in flags flying on every single drive. This just kills the entertainment of scoring drives or even defensive stops. Penalties for even the mildest of celebrations too has taken alot of the fun out of it as well. Can you imagine if the NBA didn’t allow cocky and exuberance to exist on our television screens? Ratings would plummet and they know that. That’s why it was so refreshing to hear Sean McDonough call this directly out and not be a shrill of the league like Schefter, Berman, Dilfer, or Mike Florio have done in the past.
Goodell has made more football available to everyone. It’s made the owners and him incredibly succesful. But he’s diluted his product into just like the rest of professional sports. Where the local market will always come before the national one. The NFL had the golden goose in holding both of these markets with its tv audience. But the fact is it doesn’t anymore, and if it wasn’t for the gamblers and fantasy football players. These ratings would even be lower than they think.