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Old 11-03-2017, 05:07 AM  
Eleazar Eleazar is offline
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NFL Excuses Run Out After Ratings Declines Continue

NFL's Litany of Excuses Runs Out After Ratings Fall for Second Year

By Lucas Shaw
Bloomberg.com
November 2, 2017, 11:30 AM CDT



TV networks are running out of excuses for the dwindling popularity of the National Football League.

They blamed the election for ratings declines last year, and hurricanes for a soft week one in September. Protests during the national anthem, and President Donald Trump’s criticism of the league, have faded from the headlines.

Advertisers are starting to believe a different explanation: the viewers aren’t coming back. Audiences are down an average 7 percent from a year ago through the first eight weeks of the season, excluding last Monday. That’s on top of a decrease of about 8 percent last season that spurred numerous changes in the broadcasts, from shorter commercials to better matchups earlier in the year.

“There’s just not as many people watching TV the way they used to watch TV,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, a sports marketing agency. “It’s going to be an issue for advertisers when they can’t reach a large-scale audience the way they have.”

With CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. set to report earnings in the next few days, analysts are bound to raise questions. These companies have used the popularity of the games to extract additional fees from cable operators, promote other shows on their networks and sell lots of commercials. Pro football games drew about $3.5 billion in ad spending last year, including the postseason, according to SMI Media Inc.

Media companies have spent billions of dollars on the right to air football games, which had been immune to the erosion of viewership for other TV programming. Audiences for TV networks have diminished for years as the growing popularity of online alternatives Netflix and YouTube and the availability of most shows on-demand have reduced the appeal of dramas and comedies. Live TV, like sports, was supposed to be immune, but that theory looks highly questionable now.

Ratings for the NFL suggest the same societal trends are now affecting the league, even if the declines aren’t as dramatic. The drop in game viewership ranges from 5 percent for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to 11 percent for the CBS Sunday package. “Monday Night Football,” on Disney’s ESPN, has attracted more fans this year than a year ago, but the numbers are still down from 2015.

Viewership of the four main broadcast networks fell 8.7 percent last year, and 12 percent among adults 18 to 49, an important demographic for advertisers.

CBS’s 11 percent slump for NFL games is the steepest of the networks. Its parent company, which reports earnings after the close Thursday, is more vulnerable than rivals to the trend because the vast majority of its earnings come from the broadcast network. The declines at CBS reinforce a complaint that has gotten louder and louder in recent weeks: The league got greedy in adding the Thursday night game on broadcast.

Reserving top games for Thursday night robbed other time periods of good match-ups. After a nosedive in ratings at “Monday Night Football” last season, the league has scheduled better games for that time period, further damaging Sunday afternoon.

“Ratings declines on both general entertainment and NFL programming could be the single biggest point of focus for investors this quarter, and we’re not sure what media companies can say about the health and tone of the ad market to assuage fears,” Steven Cahall, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note last month.

Viewership is dropping fast among people under 54 -- a key demographic for advertisers -- and even faster among those 18 to 34. Audiences for games on CBS, NBC and Fox have slid at least 10 percent among that younger cohort.

Advertisers aren’t abandoning the NFL, one of the only places they can still reach more than 10 million people at once. But they are growing concerned. John Schnatter, who appears in TV spots on behalf of his Papa John’s Pizza International Inc., laid into the league on a conference call this week, blaming the ratings for his company’s slow revenue growth and calling for the league to put an end to player protests.

Networks and other advertisers identify a wide range of reasons for the NFL’s struggles. The league has overexposed itself by making highlights available on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Identifiable stars like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have either retired or gotten hurt. The quality of play has deteriorated. Player protests and concussions have driven away some fans.

Some executives argue viewership of the league has still improved over the long term while dropping for every other show. Yet the amount of time people have spent watching football this season is at the lowest point since 2011, back when there were fewer televised games, according to Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ head of research.

“The cumulative effect of everything happening in the world at large is having an impact on NFL viewership,” Mulvihill said. “ The league was defying the laws of gravity.”
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Old 11-04-2017, 08:49 AM   #121
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Great point.

I have posted it before, but in the 70s and into the 80s Tennis was a huge deal, on prime time on a regular basis. Jimmy Connors, Chis Evert etc. were household names.

NHRA drag racing has been fighting this problem for decades, the fan demographic is getting very old.

I think all of the points in this thread are contributors. Nobody went to SBI nor did many care. I doubt if it gets back to that point, but I think the NFL is going to continue to see a decline.
I agree. I mean, when was the last time you saw roller derby or a demolition derby on nationally televised tv? When you think about it, all the derby are dying out. Fishing derbies, even the restaurant the Brown Derby is no more. If it ran the Kentucky Derby I would take some seriously defensive marketing operations right now.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:10 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by HemiEd View Post
Great point.

I have posted it before, but in the 70s and into the 80s Tennis was a huge deal, on prime time on a regular basis. Jimmy Connors, Chis Evert etc. were household names.

NHRA drag racing has been fighting this problem for decades, the fan demographic is getting very old.

I think all of the points in this thread are contributors. Nobody went to SBI nor did many care. I doubt if it gets back to that point, but I think the NFL is going to continue to see a decline.
Tennis has a dearth of American stars right now. That is why I think it is lagging at least in the states.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:28 AM   #123
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I agree. I mean, when was the last time you saw roller derby or a demolition derby on nationally televised tv? When you think about it, all the derby are dying out. Fishing derbies, even the restaurant the Brown Derby is no more. If it ran the Kentucky Derby I would take some seriously defensive marketing operations right now.
Bowlers have lost popularity as well. People don't watch them and people don't wear them.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:31 AM   #124
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The Papa John whining is particularly annoying. The NFL gave his company millions and millions of dollars of free publicity by giving them a Super Bowl. It was the most blatant corporate sellout in sports history, and it cost the league untold amounts of credibility. And now the guy is complaining because he wants more? I don't buy Papa John's, because I want the NFL to survive. Screw that guy and his pizza company.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:42 AM   #125
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One huge problem is they've locked themselves into the old ways of distributing their product for the quick buck and fallen behind the times. Exclusivity agreements is killing their viewership. People are fed up with paying ridiculous prices for a huge TV package they don't even want 95% of just to get the one thing they are after.

They are completely out of touch with the younger generation in their marketing. I can't stand the NBA but my teenage kids are obsessed with it so they must be doing doing something right. NFL they are semi interested only because I've forced the Chiefs on them since birth, but even then it's hard to get them to sit through more than a half before they lose interest. They'd rather catch the highlights on YouTube after the fact than sit though it live for 3-4 hours with half of it being commercials.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:55 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by CapsLockKey View Post
One huge problem is they've locked themselves into the old ways of distributing their product for the quick buck and fallen behind the times. Exclusivity agreements is killing their viewership. People are fed up with paying ridiculous prices for a huge TV package they don't even want 95% of just to get the one thing they are after.

They are completely out of touch with the younger generation in their marketing. I can't stand the NBA but my teenage kids are obsessed with it so they must be doing doing something right. NFL they are semi interested only because I've forced the Chiefs on them since birth, but even then it's hard to get them to sit through more than a half before they lose interest. They'd rather catch the highlights on YouTube after the fact than sit though it live for 3-4 hours with half of it being commercials.
Anecdotal evidence...I have to watch the game at my parents' house because I don't have cable. Football is literally the only thing I need a TV to enjoy.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:44 AM   #127
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Still doesn't include any way to buy NFL Sunday Ticket, nor does it have anywhere near the same number of channels the satellite-based service has.
Direct TV NOW has more than 130 channels, including HBO, Showtime, Starz/Encore and Cinemax. It *looks* like they don't have as many channels because it's not necessary to promote 12 HBO's, 4 Cinemax, 16 Starz/Encore, etc., but if you look carefully, every channel that you'd presumably want is there. The price for every channel is $96 dollars, substantially less than the cost of a satellite, DVR, DVR service, HD service and the Premium package.

As for Sunday Ticket, I've been told that just like every other channel, it's a licensing agreement issue and that it's very possible that it will be available next Fall for Direct TV NOW.

Direct TV would be wise to open up Sunday Ticket to non-Direct TV subscribers but as in most cases, dinosaurs run these companies and they're generally 5 years behind the public's needs.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:47 AM
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:47 AM   #128
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Tear up that ridiculous directv contract unless it comes with streaming options
That deal with the NFL isn't set to expire until after the 2021 season, so it's up to Direct TV, not the NFL, as to how they distribute the Sunday Ticket.

Streaming requires a different set of licenses so if the Direct TV were to offer a streaming only package, they'd have to do so with the consent of the NFL.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:59 AM   #129
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I hate the NFLs exclusivity agreements.

EA sports has killed football video games for the last decade. 2K did it better, microsoft game studios did it better, **** even midway did it better. **** madden.

DTV has ****ed people wanting to watch their non local teams for years.

I miss the old days where you could get an adidas jersey, starter jacket, reebok hat, and nike gloves all with chiefs shit on them, while playing NFL live and telling people that like madden that they were pillowbitergots.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:13 PM   #130
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I have to hand it to the guys that were saying Papa Johns pizza sucks. I hadn't ordered one for years so I gave it a shot last night. Some meth head shows up with my pizza and some wings last night after about an hour. They got one of the ingredients wrong but it was close enough so I tied into the first piece. It was so salty I though I was eating a salt block. All I could choke down was one piece. I literally wouldn't even give it to my dogs, I just tossed it. The wings were soso, but nothing I would ever order again. They also forgot the ranch with the order. Papa John and old 5 head can both kiss my ass.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:17 PM   #131
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It was so salty I though I was eating a salt block. All I could choke down was one piece.
That was my experience as well, even though I had only a single slice and I'm pretty sure I tossed most of it when no one was looking.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:20 PM   #132
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In retrospect, I've been watching far less than in the past due to all of the Chiefs Prime Time games this season.

When the Chiefs are on at 10am PST, it's easier to kick back and watch all afternoon but when they're in Prime Time, whether it's been Sunday, Monday or Thursday night, I tend to spend my Sunday's being more productive.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:28 PM   #133
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Yeah I'm kind of ready for the noon games to be back

I like prime time but damn
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:31 PM   #134
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Yeah I'm kind of ready for the noon games to be back

I like prime time but damn
Yeah, it *sounds* exciting to start the season but in many ways, it just prolongs the week.

I think I'd be happier with 2-3 Prime Time games as opposed to 6.
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Old 11-04-2017, 01:50 PM   #135
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One thing they could do is to make the games more accessible to other viewing mediums like MLB does. As the article states, more people just aren't watching TV the way they used to.

Maybe another thing to do is get rid of the announcers. I find them mostly irritating and turn down the game and turn up the music.
I think it would be an interesting test. Run a contest for every team. Select one to two of the most knowledgeable fans on their teams. Then have them in the broadcast booth adding some flair and actual knowledge to the viewers. Friendly smacktalk. Have a professional in there also to keep things in line and moving forward.
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