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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 11-03-2017, 07:21 PM   #106
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:22 PM   #107
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DicrecTV has a streaming service. Just launched recently. No dish.
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.
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:27 PM   #108
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To me, it's a combination of a ton of things, including:
  1. Changing preferences (half of my friends give zero ****s about sports, and I'm in my 30's; younger kids seem to have even less interest)
  2. A constant stream of decisions that have been made in the past ~15 years that have slowed the game down, increased the role that subjective officiating plays, and reduced the amount of athleticism in the game through far fewer practices and rules that have removed big hits (though I don't disagree with that one philosophically, you have to admit that "jacked up" was more fun)
  3. The sports media, like all media, trying to make "news" out of every little controversy rather than just focusing on the game.
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:35 PM   #109
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Old 11-03-2017, 10:01 PM   #110
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For those who doubt the officiating being part of the decline: https://deadspin.com/take-away-the-refs-mics-1820074611

Quote:
You can go back and look at the average penalties per team per game over the past nine years and see it:

2017 6.86
2016 6.64
2015 6.87
2014 6.60
2013 6.08
2012 6.22
2011 6.32
2010 6.02
2009 5.93
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Old 11-03-2017, 10:05 PM   #111
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BigRedChief or one of the Floridians
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Old 11-03-2017, 10:22 PM   #112
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For those who doubt the officiating being part of the decline: https://deadspin.com/take-away-the-refs-mics-1820074611
1 penalty more per game does the trick, huh?
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Old 11-03-2017, 11:06 PM   #113
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If I had to rank the reasons for the decline, I'd go with...

1. More ways to watch, including ways that don't get measured. Fantasy football is probably responsible for a decline because a bunch of people now just watch those scoring summary shows. Others don't bother watching live because they can get a replay later.

2. Less interest in football due to the rise of video games and other electronic entertainment.

3. Less interesting seasons because it's always going to be the Patriots, Packers, and Steelers for the past two decades. And your team has no chance without a lights-out quarterback.

4. Less interesting games because it's more about marketing big-name players and scoring lots of points than it is about sports and teamwork. It's becoming obvious that it's a business, and rule changes and enforcement hammer it home.

5. Less interesting games because defense isn't allowed.

6. Cheating by a few teams that tilts the table.

7. Less interest because fewer kids are playing due to health concerns.

8. Aqib Talib.
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Old 11-03-2017, 11:52 PM   #114
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For those who doubt the officiating being part of the decline: https://deadspin.com/take-away-the-refs-mics-1820074611
Less than 1? OMG

I wonder which penalties people would rather not have called. Which should be ignored?
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:33 AM   #115
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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.
This is why the NFL is dying...you have the owner of a Pizza company ordering the owners of the NFL to do change things to increase his revenue growth.

This is partially why you get the predetermined SB match-ups and the rigged outcomes.

The NFL is merely a televised vehicle to sell unrelated products now...essentially, they pay their bills. The NFL answers to them...
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Old 11-04-2017, 01:00 AM   #116
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This is why the NFL is dying...you have the owner of a Pizza company ordering the owners of the NFL to do change things to increase his revenue growth.

This is partially why you get the predetermined SB match-ups and the rigged outcomes.

The NFL is merely a televised vehicle to sell unrelated products now...essentially, they pay their bills. The NFL answers to them...
I'd love to get back to the day when all that mattered was the win. Not the money, not the bottom line.

Yes, I know owners are always about the money and bottom line, but I don't think they give a shit about the win anymore.
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Old 11-04-2017, 05:26 AM   #117
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BigRedChief or one of the Floridians
Not me....that guy has way too much hair than us older guys.
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Old 11-04-2017, 05:38 AM   #118
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Old 11-04-2017, 06:22 AM   #119
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I think most of it is just generational and changing viewing habits. Cord-cutting which has already been mentioned.

Ive read that 40 years ago, the most popular sports in the US were Baseball, Boxing and Horse racing.


There is soooo much competition for the entertainment dollar nowadays. So many more options than 40, 30, 20 even 10 years ago.

Times change....
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.
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Old 11-04-2017, 06:32 AM   #120
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If I had to rank the reasons for the decline, I'd go with...

1. More ways to watch, including ways that don't get measured. Fantasy football is probably responsible for a decline because a bunch of people now just watch those scoring summary shows. Others don't bother watching live because they can get a replay later.

2. Less interest in football due to the rise of video games and other electronic entertainment.

3. Less interesting seasons because it's always going to be the Patriots, Packers, and Steelers for the past two decades. And your team has no chance without a lights-out quarterback.

4. Less interesting games because it's more about marketing big-name players and scoring lots of points than it is about sports and teamwork. It's becoming obvious that it's a business, and rule changes and enforcement hammer it home.

5. Less interesting games because defense isn't allowed.

6. Cheating by a few teams that tilts the table.

7. Less interest because fewer kids are playing due to health concerns.

8. Aqib Talib.
Bring in a new commissioner. Tear up that ridiculous directv contract unless it comes with streaming options, and offer an mlb like package of media options. Get rid of arbitrary flags and let players have personalities again. Renegotiate the CBA with a genuine interest in player safety, starting with extending offseason conditioning programs. Get rid of tnf and concentrate 100% of energy on getting marquee snf and mnf games. Get rid of London and focus on the home court.

All pretty simple things to do for owners who care more about the game than the $.
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