The NFL’s TV Ratings “Problem”

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The NFL is a business. Team owners and executives know it. Players know it. Do fans know it? I don’t think the average or even ‘fair weather’ fans truly grasps that notion.  I feel like Roger Goodell would be more likeable if he acted like Lord Business from A Lego Movie…or maybe he is Lord Business.  Could you imagine Taco Tuesdays instead of Thursday Night Football?

I can almost imagine Goodell looping “Everything is Awesome” at NFL headquarters in New York City.  Brainwashing any and all employees within earshot of the mildly hypnotic and possibly catchy tune.

My point is the NFL is a business.  It’s a business that takes in about  $15 billion per annum.  Roger Goodell and the NFL DO NOT care about you.  They don’t care about your feelings, your likes, dislikes, what you love or what you hate.  The NFL doesn’t care if you’ve been a fan since kindergarten.

The NFL does not care about you at all.  I’m sorry to break that news to you Pancho Billa.   I’m not saying the other sports leagues do, after all they are all businesses too.  What the NFL does like about you is not about who you are, what you do, or where you come from.  Rather, what you can do for or give it.  That is your eye balls and your money.  Football fans watch hours and hours and hours of football.  They keep pouring billions of dollars into the “game they love.”  Then, in return, they get what?  A team moving to a new city?  Owners and General Managers trading away beloved players or other fan favorites?

The NFL is that popular girl in school.  Fans will carry her lunch tray, “heavy” backpack or books, do her homework, and/or be the look out while she and her friends pop some adderall.  All that to be dragged along because the NFL promised to meet by the bleachers after last bell and give you something special.  The NFL know there’s no way in hell it is giving you anything and doesn’t care about that.  It got what it wanted.  The transaction is complete.  You paid for its product.  Are you not entertained?

Now to the problem.  It’s no secret that the NFL’s TV ratings dropped the last few seasons.  There was a 9.7% ratings drop in NFL games last season alone.  There are some factors that attributed to that.  The main reasons or excuses were the National Anthem protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.  Then there was the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Are those legitimate reasons?  Maybe.  The main thing is ratings are dropping and Roger Goodell doesn’t seem too concerned, at this point.

Fans are turning away from his product and he is barely batting an eye at it.  When ratings drop for any TV show or sporting event it’s usually a cause for concern.  Is the show stale?  Is the writing back?  Are people just not connecting with the characters?  The NFL doesn’t seem too worried its own ratings dropped.  In January 2018, Roger Goodell was meeting some reporters in Jacksonville, Florida and said:

“We always want ratings to go up, but we’re 37 of the top 50 shows, which is higher than ever,” Goodell said. “We’re likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox — excuse me, on all of television — the Fox Sunday afternoon game. Sunday night primetime is, for the seventh year in a row, the number 1 show. Thursday Night Football is number 2.”

Not a care in the world.  Are you not entertained?

The NBA is the only major sport league in America that has ratings on the rise.  Which I’m sure makes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver very happy.  In February 2018 it was reported that the NBA ratings were up 15.4 percent from last season.  The other major sports leagues are either keeping average viewership or dropping like lead balloon out of the proverbial sky.

Why does Adam Silver look like he doesn’t belong in this picture?

Here’s the deal.  Even with the ratings drop the NFL still dominated the TV ratings and viewership standings.

                            Top 50 U.S. TV Broadcasts, 2017

#Televised EventViewers
1Super Bowl LI, ATL-NE (Fox)111.3M
2NFC Divisional Playoff, GB-DAL (Fox)48.5M
3AFC Championship Game, PIT-NE (CBS)48.0M
4Trump’s Congressional Address (multiple networks)47.7M
5NFC Championship Game, GB-ATL (Fox)46.3M
6NFC Wild Card Playoff, NYG-GB (Fox)39.3M
7AFC Divisional Playoff, PIT-KC (NBC)37.1M
889th Academy Awards (ABC)32.9M
9Trump’s Inauguration (multiple networks)30.6M
10AFC Wild Card Playoff, MIA-PIT (CBS)29.9M
11AFC Divisional Playoff, HOU-NE (CBS)29.8M
12NFC Divisional Playoff, SEA-ATL (Fox)28.7M
132017 MLB World Series, Game 7 (Fox)28.2M
14Trump’s Afghanistan Speech (multiple networks)27.8M
15National Window, Week 15, NE-PIT (CBS)26.9M
16NFC Wild Card Playoff, DET-SEA (NBC)26.9M
17Thanksgiving Day Game, LAC-DAL (CBS)26.3M
18The 59th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS)26.1M
19National Window, Week 2, DAL-DEN (Fox)26.0M
20College Football Championship, CLEM-ALA (ESPN)25.3M
21AFC Wild Card Playoff, OAK-HOU (ABC/ESPN)25.1M
22Thanksgiving Day Game, MIN-DET (Fox)24.7M
232017 NBA Finals, Game 5 (ABC)24.5M
24Sunday Night Football, Week 1, NYG-DAL (NBC)24.4M
2591st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC)24.1M
26National Window, Week 5, GB-DAL (Fox)23.9M
27National Window, Week 14, PHL-LAR (Fox)23.8M
28Sunday Night Football, Week 17*, GB-DET (NBC)23.8M
29NCAA Men’s Hoops Championship, UNC-GON (CBS)23.0M
30National Window, Week 17, SEA-DAL (Fox)23.0M
31National Window, Week 1, SEA-GB (Fox)22.8M
32National Window, Week 17**, NYG-WAS (Fox)22.4M
332017 MLB World Series, Game 6 (Fox)22.3M
34National Window, Week 10, DAL-ATL (Fox)22.0M
35National Window, Week 8, DAL-WAS (Fox)22.0M
36NFL Kickoff Game, KC-NE (NBC)21.8M
37National Window, Week 9, KC-DAL (CBS)21.7M
38National Window, Week 3, CIN-GB (CBS)21.3M
39Sunday Night Football, Week 11, PHL-DAL (NBC)21.1M
40National Window, Week 6, PIT-KC (CBS)20.6M
41National Window, Week 13, CAR-NO (CBS)20.2M
42Sunday Night Football, Week 2, GB-ATL (NBC)20.2M
43Regional Window, Week 4, LAR-DAL (Fox)20.1M
44The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)20.0M
452017 NBA Finals, Game 3 (ABC)20.0M
46National Window, Week 12, NO-LAR (CBS)19.9M
47National Window, Week 7, CIN-PIT (CBS)19.8M
48Sunday Night Football, Week 13, PHL-SEA (NBC)19.7M
492017 NBA Finals, Game 2 (ABC)19.7M
50Sunday Night Football, Week 15, DAL-OAK (NBC)19.2M

Source: Nielsen live-plus-same-day data Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017

Yeah, I don’t think Roger Goodell is shaking in his little space boots worried over the ratings drop.

The recent 2018 NFL draft is a good reason why he shouldn’t be concerned.  The televised draft was carried on THREE TV networks:  ESPN, Fox Sports and NFL Network. Shown across SIX channels:  ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Fox, ABC and the NFL Network.  Coverage for the 1st round drew in 11.2 million viewers, up 22% respectively from 2017. Saturday’s coverage of Rounds 4-7 averaged 2.9 million viewers, the most-watched Day 3 ever.

Attendance at the draft was insane. The draft was a 3-day event.  On Day 1 alone it was reported that there was over 100,000 people who attended the NFL Draft.  Also, there was the NFL Draft Experience in Arlington that had an estimated 400,000 people attend.

Roger Goodell isn’t worried about you.  He’s barely worried about the ratings.  All he is worried about is making sure the NFL looks good in the mirror and on paper.