Yesterday was all about one subject – – CTE and football. Today will be more like an anthology – – except not nearly as literate. Let me begin with the release of results from a recent poll done by JD Power & Associates, a highly regarded polling and market consulting firm. According to the summary of the data, it was the “national anthem protests” that caused the major portion of the drop in TV viewership for the NFL last year. Let’s do some math here as we contemplate the interpretation – not the results – of this polling:
- JD Power polled 9200 people (a good sample size) who had attended at least one sporting event last year if they tuned in to see less NFL football last season and if so, why did they do so. (These questions are layered and are addressed to a segment of the population likely to watch NFL games on TV.)
- Of the ones who said they watched less of the NFL on TV, the highest response as to why they did so was some version of “Colin Kaepernicks’s national anthem protest”. That was the answer given by 26% of the fraction that said they watched less NFL football on TV.
- That sounds as if the protest had a major effect – – – until you also notice that according to the same JD Power survey, only 12% of this audience said it watched fewer NFL telecasts last year. So, it was 26% of the 12% who watched less football who did so because of the protest. That is about 3% and that is a far less dramatic result.
- Going slightly deeper into the numbers, 27% of the respondents said they watched more NFL football last year and 62% said they watched the same amount. So, based on this survey, for every person who watched less NFL last year, there are more than 2 other people who watched more.
The people who believe deeply in Colin Kaepernick and the cause he espouses want very much to be able to say that they and he have “started a movement” and that it has been manifest in diminishing the popularity of the most popular sport in the US. The problem is that wishing it were so does not make it so. NFL ratings were down last year significantly up until the election of 2016; from that point forward NFL TV ratings were down only 1% year-over-year.
Two events earlier this week gave those folks who are outraged by Colin Kaepernick’s lack of an NFL job reason to howl at the moon.
- First, the LA Chargers invited RG3 to come and work out for them but did not extend a similar offer to Kaepernick. Most neutral observers would agree that Kaepernick is a better QB than RG3, but it was RG3 who “got the call”. The Chargers did not sign RG3, but they “kicked the tires” …
- Second, the Chargers then traded for a backup QB sending a conditional draft pick to Buffalo for Cardale Jones. Let’s just say that Jones’ résumé as an NFL QB is a tad thin. He has appeared in 1 game; and in that game, he was 6 for 11 for 96 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT. Colin Kaepernick led a team to the Super Bowl.
Since I mentioned the NFL and its telecasts above, let me now let you in on the way ESPN will structure its programming on Sunday mornings leading up to the NFL telecasts at 1:00PM ET.
- At 7:00 AM, ESPN will air a 3-hour version of SportsCenter
- At 10:00 AM, ESPN will air a 3-hour version of its Sunday NFL Countdown; that is an expansion over previous years. Chris Berman will not be at the helm as he had been for decades and the other studio hosts will be different too. Samantha Ponder – wife of NFLer Christian Ponder – will be in charge replacing Berman. The core group of studio hosts will be Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Rex Ryan and Charles Woodsen. The standard cast of NFL Insiders at ESPN will make regular appearances here too.
- At 10:00 AM, SportsCenter will shift from ESPN to ESPN NEWS going until game time. That means, in effect, there will be a 6-hour SportsCenter produced every Sunday morning.
- At 10:00 AM, ESPN2 will air a 3-hour program on Fantasy Football. I understand that I am one of a dwindling minority of people who ignores Fantasy Football completely; nonetheless, I am gobsmacked that there could possibly be 3 hours of relevant commentary on that subject for even one Sunday let alone for 17 of them.
- At 10:00AM, ESPNU will rebroadcast College Football Final from the day before giving the highlights of college games played on Saturday. That is a 1-hour program and it will be repeated back-to-back-to-back 3 times taking ESPNU up to 1: PM.
Let me channel Hank Williams, Jr. here – who will be back on MNF this year after a 5-year hiatus:
- “Are you ready for some football?”
I read a report citing data from NFL ticket resellers about the average price for a ticket on those sites for various teams. Looking at the list, it is not surprising to note that the teams at the top are ones who are successful on the field. The Pats’ tickets are the most expensive on average at $360 per seat. Then come the Broncos, Falcons, Packers, Seahawks, Steelers … you get the idea. However, in the “Top Ten” – in the #7 slot to be exact – I found the Chicago Bears. Since the 2006 season when the Bears lost in the Super Bowl to the Colts, the Bears have been to the playoffs exactly one time. In the intervening 10 years, the Bears’ cumulative record is 75-85. Nevertheless, if you want to buy a ticket on the resale market for a Bears’ game at Soldier Field, be aware that the average price is $209 per fanny-receptacle.
Finally, Falcons’ resale ticket prices are through the roof but the team is going to provide low-cost concessions to fans this year. That news led to this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
“The Atlanta Falcons are rewarding fans this year by offering soft drinks, bottled water, hot dogs and fries for $2 each, and cheeseburgers for $5.
“This is apparently to counter the taste of Super Bowl LI, which is known among Atlantans as ‘Barf in Your Mouth Day’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………