There are lots of reasons not to watch the NFL these days.
Maybe you’re offended by players not standing for the national anthem, or maybe you’re upset by what appears to be the league’s owners shutting out Colin Kaepernick over his protest.
Maybe you’re still distracted by politics outside of football, one of the major excuses offered last year for declining ratings, or maybe you can’t be drawn in by an increasingly mediocre product.
Maybe you can’t watch anymore, knowing in greater detail all the time how the sport ravages the bodies of the players from head to toe, or maybe you’re turned off by how the league has gone soft, everything is a penalty, and you just can’t hit like you used to – unless you’re a cameraman, apparently, in which case you just go out and level cheerleaders now.
Either way, it’s bad enough that even in this era of acting as if facts don’t matter, an NFL spokesman declared last Sunday’s ratings to be “kind of a mixed bag.” In other words, Week 2 in the NFL was terrible for business.
“Fox had a huge audience,” spokesman Joe Lockhart said, as quoted by USA Today. “Especially given there was a weather delay of about an hour.”
It’s true, the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos was held up for an hour because of a thunderstorm, though that’s not really an “even though” situation. Games that run later should wind up getting more viewers, because people are coming home from their Sunday afternoon outings. There’s a reason, after all, that prime time is called prime time – it’s when the most people are in front of their televisions.
The football broadcast that’s regularly in prime time, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, saw its ratings drop in Week 2, as did Fox’s early slate of games, and as did CBS. Meanwhile, people aren’t coming to the games, either, at least in the league’s newest market, Los Angeles, where two professional games could not combine to outdraw Saturday’s college game between USC and Texas.
Monday Night Football did do better in Week 2, but even that Detroit Lions rout of the New York Giants demonstrated another pitfall for the NFL’s 2017 ratings, which is that the five teams in the nation’s three largest media markets are generally terrible, with a combined record of 2-9. That is a temporary problem, but one that comes at a bad time for a league trying to retain eyeballs.
The NFL remains No. 1, but with each passing week that’s a “mixed bag” or worse, it gets easier to see that primacy is not permanent. Just the narrative of football sliding is a dangerous thing for the league. It’s been percolating for some time, yet the league has done little to nothing to stand in the way.
After years of talk about how baseball needs to learn from the NFL, maybe it’s the other way around. Major League Baseball has been doing great business for a long time, yet remains confronted with “baseball is dying” thinkpieces. The response under Rob Manfred has been smart: acknowledge problems, address the identified problems with a series of initiatives like installing clocks to keep coaches’ mound visits brief, but don’t make any truly significant changes because, hey, business is still good.
This is only an option while business is actually good, and the NFL needs to act – or at least appear to act, a lot more than it actually has – while that is still the case.
Noted left-wing media outlet ESPN revealed this week that the wealthy are being unfairly taxed?
Yes, it turns out that professional athletes, in this case NBA players, do not really get all of the money that you think they would get as a result of their salaries being publicly listed. It turns out that the top-paid basketball players only take home something in the neighborhood of half that much money, as a result of the government’s sticky fingers – at the federal, state, and even local levels!
Groundbreaking stuff here. Maybe this can be a problem to overcome in the next NBA video game, given that soccer video games now include the possibility for players to sign virtual endorsement deals. Really, though, taxes should be part of soccer video games, given that they’re just another obstaclefor the world’s best players, and also Wayne Rooney.