The continued abysmal ratings for the NFL continue to fascinate me. And I’m still skeptical
of it being about the election. And the insiders seem to be expanding that excuse. As Drew Harwell reports:
In an internal NFL memo sent last week and given to The Washington Post, two league executives, Brian Rolapp and Howard Katz, wrote that “all networks airing NFL games are down” and that “primetime windows have clearly been affected the most.”
They pointed to “a confluence of events,” including the election, to explain the ratings slide. “While our partners, like us, would have liked to see higher ratings,” they added, “they remain confident in the NFL and unconcerned about a long-term issue.”
We’ll see. I think something being downplayed is the long-term trend:
Though it still dominates the country’s leisure time, traditional TV viewership has rapidly dwindled. Since 2010, the time Americans spend watching TV has dropped 11 percent, Nielsen data shows. For people younger than 24, their TV time has plunged more than 40 percent, with many of those minutes spent instead on social media and their phones.
Young people on their phones/devices instead of watching TV is undeniable. The question, of course, is whether they’ll end up watching the NFL
that way. Personally, if I was betting on sports here, I’d still bet on soccer
or the NBA…
One more tidbit:
Long-term slides in ratings pose a financial minefield for the big TV networks, which have agreed to pay the league tens of billions of dollars to air NFL games through 2022.
The networks do not make enough ad revenue to fully cover those arrangements, according to an industry estimate provided by Magna. But they believe the promotional halo of having NFL games leading viewers into other programming makes the deals worth it. Falling viewership, however, could drive down ad revenue, making the networks’ calculations harder to defend, Hughes said.
Also, the football games themselves have sort of sucked thus far this year. So it’s probably not great for the NFL that they’re everywhere now