The NFL Ratings Plummet Explained
So one of the stories that has creeped up in the shadows this season has been an 11% drop in ratings for NFL programming. The NFL is still a ratings giant, but this sudden drop is big enough to be noticeable and may be causing concern among the league.
There have been a lot of speculation already as to why the ratings are dropping. Most make a little sense. I think the clown-show that is the presidential race is a notable culprit. Why watch Packers/Giants or Falcons/Saints when you can hate watch the debates. But really, I think it might be the first leak of a much bigger problem that may finally be coming home to roost. The NFL’s product is currently pretty bad, and it’s getting worse.
I’m going to link this article from Awful Announcing which says pretty much most of what I feel about all this. It’s good, you should read it. I agree with everything stated in it except the outrageous claim that Super Bowl 50 was the worst game played in the author’s lifetime. Unless the Author was born after Steelers/Seahawks and is somehow an internet writing prodigy I think SB50 was pretty okay. Not great, but calling it the worst game ever played is a huge insult to the outstanding defense played in that game on both sides. Seahawks pounding the Broncos was worse and far more boring. Colts/Bears the same way. Steelers Seahawks was the quality of a Thursday Night Football game and it remains the worst super bowl I’ve watched (As an Unbiased Observer, fuck you Ravens). But I digress.
The NFL’s product is bad and it is getting worse because the owners only see the money potential of gimmicks and advertising without realizing that good football will always be the best seller. Thursday Night Football is trash. The teams aren’t at full capacity after 4 days rest and the poor quality of play shows. An over saturation of primetime games leads to some truly woeful matchups as well, on top of fans already getting very sick of certain teams constant primetime presence (NFCE, Patriots, Packers, other big media markets). London games used to be a cute novelty. Now they are happening several times a year so the NFL can push into a market that will never be that big.
Nobody knows what a catch is. The rules of the game keep getting more and more complex, making it harder and harder for the not-full time refs to do their jobs well. Many of the rule changes make no damn sense. Why doesn’t the NFL realize that Football and Sports are at heart an entertainment industry and then restrict players ability to entertain? Excessive celebration was only called when the celebrating hurt someone or delayed the game when I was a kid. Now Antonio Brown can only 2 pump it. Key and Peele did that 3 pump sketch as a hyperbole joke about the NFL’s restrictions, and the NFL seemed to think it was a business plan. Cam became a sensation last season because he danced a lot. People clearly want to see it, even if it’s to hate it. Look at Pro Wrestling. The sport is fake, but it has a huge fanbase because the performers are encouraged to be performers. They entertain. Let the damn players show personality. Odell Beckham Jr has become a media hog because he expresses some and nobody can shut up about it. Give the people what they want you dumb idiots.
Other penalties suck too. I think 60-70% of roughing the passer calls are bullshit. Replays showing the defender basically already in midair unable to change direction when the QB lets go, and they get penalized for obeying the laws of physics. Illegal contact is still stupid, and an instant first down despite being 5 yards.
And lastly, the fucking commercials. Holy Shit, watching a regular game on TV has become unwatchable. I have to either watch Redzone or go to the bar so I can watch other games when mine is on break. There is no excuse for TD-Commerical-Kickoff-Commercial. By week 4 we’ve seen all the commercials already. If I see that guy say “She was born on Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Day” again I’m going to burn down a Subway.
Some have predicted the death of the NFL thanks to concussions. Predicting a fall within the next decade. This ratings thing is the first sign it might happen. How the NFL responds to this will be telling. Will they get their heads out of their asses and focus on improving the product? Or keep plowing ahead like idiots until the damage gets too big and they genuinely lose money and things change far more drastically? I want the former, but it’s going to be the latter.
Also Brady isn’t the GOAT