NFL TV Ratings Are Down …

Just in case you live in a dark cave somewhere or have just emerged from a coma, the NFL’s TV ratings are down this year – and not insignificantly. Various folks have offered hypotheses to explain the data; these hypotheses are difficult to verify; therefore, a cacophony of views is out there offering “explanation”. I have no idea why this is the case, but I do have some observations to proffer:

    1. I do not think reduced TV viewing is a response to the national anthem protests. I think that people offering that up as the reason are simply finding a way to connect their personal view of those protests with something that might make sense as a plot element in a novel.

    2. I do not think reduced TV viewing is a response to the various allegations of violence against women involving NFL players. Let me be polite and just say that reasoning is a stretch.

    3. I do not think reduced TV viewing is due to the violence of the game and the long-term health consequences incurred by the players. That too is a stretch.

    4. I do not think reduced TV viewing has anything at all to do with the NFL’s crackdown on end-zone celebrations after a TD. That is a stretch even Reed Richards cannot make.

Some within the NFL have “suggested” that people may be distracted from football because of the intensive media coverage of the Presidential Campaigns. With regard to that explanation, I guess I could entertain it for a while because of the emotion that so many folks have poured into this election cycle; they may be more “emotionally drained” than they are “distracted”, but this could be a factor in the equation. The good part of this hypothesis is that it presents a rather clear way to test itself. Starting on Thursday November 10, the NFL will be televising games with the election cycle in the rear view mirror. If the election cycle is what is holding down ratings, they should start to climb back to their levels from last year between then and Christmas.

    [Aside: If I were an NFL spokesthing, I would not be suggesting that there is more excitement and attention-grabbing value in political name-calling and poll analysis than there is in “my games”. There is a long-term negative message there.]

Personally, I think there are two factors internal to the NFL telecasts that are contributing factors to the decline in ratings:

    1. The NFL has long sought “parity”; and so far this season, they seem to have achieved “parity” to a degree not seen in recent years. We are through Week 6 on the schedule; if you count the teams with “middling records” – say between 2 and 4 losses – you will find that 23 of the 32 teams fall in that category. For years, the NFL trumpeted “parity” as an ideal where every team has a real chance to win every game and every year. That was never true and real fans knew it was marketing hype, but the TV audience is more than just “real fans”. Perhaps the casual fans are tiring of watching mediocrity on their screens. What the NFL does not want to hear – let alone admit – is that there is an outbreak of mediocrity in the hinterlands and it is not welcome.

    2. The games are poorly officiated with some of the officiating errors – pointedly admitted 48 hours ex post facto – changing the outcome of the games themselves. Even more importantly, some of the errors change the outcome of the games with regard to the spread or the Total Line. The NFL has never even given a nod toward the “gambling factor” as a component of its growth but the fact is that a great deal of the NFL’s popularity rests on a bedrock foundation of wagering on various games and tuning in to watch how one’s side of the wager comes out.

Speaking of wagering and NFL football, the path to partial public funding for a stadium in Las Vegas to house the now-Oakland Raiders is clear. In a special session of the Nevada Legislature, an increase in the hotel tax was approved and the Governor signed the bill. There are 3 major hurdles here and one of them has been crossed. The two remaining hurdles are:

    They have to find a site for the stadium. No site proposal will please everyone; there will likely be protests and lawsuits and various “stalling tactics”. Nevertheless, there has to be a site somewhere that will emerge as “the one”. This will take time, but this is not a show-stopper.

    The other 31 NFL owners will have to “bless” the move to Las Vegas. Last year, they made Stan Kroenke cough up $500M for the right to move to LA; that put approximately $16M in each of the other owners’ pockets simply by voting “YES”. I can see a motivation for them to repeat that process again soon. There are some potential “nefarious conspiracy theories” out there regarding what some owners may demand in exchange for their “YES” votes. I will not dignify them here – until and unless there is some evidence that things other than monetary gain motivates some of the owners.

The NFL owners are meeting in Houston this week but they will not be voting on this move then. In fact, the league has already said that this issue may not make it to the agenda for the owners’ meeting in January 2017 but may need to wait until the Spring of 2017 before it is considered.

In one other NFL note, Dolphins’ rookie tackle Laremy Tunsil missed a game due to an injury he incurred getting out of the shower. You may recall that proximal to the NFL Draft a video appeared on one of the social media sites of Tunsil wearing and using a bong mask. So, that makes the question here obvious:

    Was he using the bong mask in the shower?

To be fair, Tunsil claims that his social media account was hacked and that is how the video appeared there. Obviously, I have no idea if that is the case or not. But putting the video in juxtaposition with the “shower injury” is not all that difficult…

Finally, here is an NFL item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Corpulent Chiefs coach Andy Reid, to reporters, on 346-pound nose tackle Dontari Poe’s 1-yard TD run vs. the Raiders: ‘I’m taking credit for that one for all the chubby guys out there.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

5 thoughts on “NFL TV Ratings Are Down …”

  1. I think the election is part of the problem, but the college football season has been one of the best so far (for viewing). Even the most devote sports fan has to occasionally move away from the TV. If he is also watching politics on TV there isn’t much time left to empty the trash or pretend you are listening to your wife.

  2. ..also heard a good question – I don’t think the TV ratings count all the tablets, phones, etc people watch on now. …. I know they miss viewers because people with fantasy teams go to sports bars where they can watch 4 games at once to watch their players…

    1. Ed:

      The “multiple viewers in sportsbars” has been an issue for more than a few years now. I would guess that the ratings folks have some sort of algorithm to adjust for those added eyeballs by now. The viewers on phones/tablets should be measurable but I do not know if the ratings have taken that into account.

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