The NFL’s ratings are down in a serious way, reversing a constant upward trend over the past through years that has seen the NFL come through repeated domestic violence and disciplinary scandals unscathed. It’s enough to get owners seriously concerned, looking to place blame on targets like the presidential election and national anthem protests.
While the first two debates have coincided with NFL games, if you want to get at what might be the root cause of the downturn, maybe Mark Cuban already told you where to look back in 2014.
“Hogs get slaughtered” is a particularly dark way of looking at things, but it’s no secret that the NFL’s grab at a consistent Thursday night slot has resulted in a lower quality product on those nights, and stretching fan viewership over more days could very well be submarining the NFL’s status as event television. Cuban may have nailed it:
“They’re trying to take over every night of TV,” Cuban said. “Initially, it’ll be, ‘Yeah, they’re the biggest-rating thing that there is.’ OK, Thursday, that’s great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you’re impacting colleges. Now it’s on four days a week.
“It’s all football. At some point, the people get sick of it.”
In the USA Today article linked above, owners were comforted by the thought that when the election is over, things may return to normal. But they were portrayed as equally disquieted by the national anthem protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick, and if they think that white people turning off NFL games because of something that happens during the national anthem is having just as much of an impact as their product being overextended and diluted, they are only seeing what they want to see.
(Via USA Today)