NFL ratings are down - My thoughts on why... (1 Viewer)

BoNcHiE

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MNF has drawn it's lowest ratings the first three weeks since 2009 and has declined three straight years. Sunday primetime is down 12%. The afternoon games are also down (CBS is down 18%, Fox is down more slightly).

Everyone thinks it's only about the anthem protests. I don't buy it.

It's a convenient excuse to ignore the league's bigger problems which have gone unaddressed.

1) The officiating: It's awful, inconsistent, often biased, and at best seems to coincidentally coincide with betting angles far too often. The only way to fix it is by taking some of the power out of their hands but we all know that will never happen.

2) The Product on the field is somewhere between average and dog-crap: The lack of offseason practice has severely hurt the precision and quality of the game. Dropped passes at an all time high, communication issues, increased injuries, missed tackles, etc. Games 5 years ago were just better to watch.

3) The rules: PI calls are killing the defensive game. They influence games routinely. Who wants to keep watching a league in which their team's season is decided by a judgement call? But it happens to fan bases every year. Every time a game is decided that way, some number of fans tune out for the season.

4) Lack of elite QBs: The read option in college is beginning to strangle the NFL game. Yes, there are a few decent young QBs out there who win in their own way. But there are no new Brees/Bradys/Mannings in the pipeline (No, Luck and Wilson are not those guys). You've literally got dudes like Cody Kessler starting games and average QBs like Joe Flacco being considered great. When Cam Newton is a "star" QB, then you know it's crap overall and it's not getting better.

5) Lack of parity (not week to week, but seasonally): Any team can win every week, but that doesn't seem to translate to the postseason. The league is becoming more and more top heavy. It's nearly the same teams every year making the playoffs now. Certain historic, big market teams also seem to consistently get the calls they need to remain competitive, further destroying parity. There seems to be a concerted effort the past several seasons to ensure certain teams return to prominence.

Forget our woes. How do you think Browns fans feel? Jags fans? Bucs fans? Dolphins? Raiders? Chargers? Bills? Titans? Why would any fans of those teams still have any hope at this point? If I were a Browns or Titans fan, I'd of stopped watching years ago.

6) Roger Goodell: He's made too many enemies on all sides with fans. At some point, it starts to add up and people tune out. When 80% of fans hate the commissioner, it has to affect ratings.

7) Political stuff: Football is supposed to be an escape. Fans want to be able to watch a game or ESPN and not have to deal with the garbage of the political world and it's issues. Yet, more and more over the past few years, they've begun to mix in ways that turn people off. I won't name all the different ways as to avoid that argument. But you can come up with them on your own.

8) Health concerns and public perception: We know all the details, but I think the head injury stuff has made an impact and will get worse in the future. The more it becomes in vogue to pronounce football a backwoods game of stupid neanderthals, the more it will decline in favor of other games. The irony is that I don't think the rule changes on the field in this vein are an issue. I think emphasis on PI and Defensive holding has done much, much more damage to the game.

9) Lack of intriguing storylines: How many times can the fans of the other 31 teams care that the Patriots made a Super Bowl? This goes back to lack of parity.
 

saintsfannca

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MNF has drawn it's lowest ratings the first three weeks since 2009 and has declined three straight years. Sunday primetime is down 12%. The afternoon games are also down (CBS is down 18%, Fox is down more slightly).

Everyone thinks it's all about the anthem protests. I don't buy it.

It's a convenient excuse to ignore the league's bigger problems which have gone unaddressed.

1) The officiating: It's awful, inconsistent, often biased, and at best seems to coincidentally coincide with betting angles far too often. The only way to fix it is by taking some of the power out of their hands but we all know that will never happen.

2) The Product on the field is somewhere between average and dog-crap: The lack of offseason practice has severely hurt the precision and quality of the game. Dropped passes at an all time high, communication issues, increased injuries, etc. Games 5 years ago were just better to watch.

3) The rules: PI calls are killing the defensive game. They influence games routinely. Who wants to keep watching a league in which their team's season is decided by a judgement call? But it happens to fan bases every year. Every time a game is decided that way, some number of fans tune out for the season.

4) Lack of elite QBs: The read option in college is beginning to strangle the NFL game. Yes, there are a few decent young QBs out there who win in their own way. But there are no new Brees/Bradys/Mannings in the pipeline (No, Luck and Wilson are not those guys). You've literally got dudes like Cody Kessler starting games and average QBs like Joe Flacco being considered great. When Cam Newton is a "star" QB, then you know it's crap overall and it's not getting better.

5) Lack of parity (not week to week, but seasonally): Any team can win every week, but that doesn't seem to translate to the postseason. The league is becoming more and more top heavy. It's nearly the same teams every year making the playoffs now. Certain historic, big market teams also seem to consistently get the calls they need to remain competitive, further destroying parity.

Forget our woes. How do you think Browns fans feel? Jags fans? Bucs fans? Dolphins? Raiders? Chargers? Bills? Titans? Why would any fans of those teams still have any hope at this point? If I were a Browns or Titans fan, I'd of stopped watching years ago.

6) Roger Goodell: He's made too many enemies on all sides with fans. At some point, it starts to add up and people tune out. When 80% of fans hate the commissioner, it has to affect ratings.

7) Political stuff: Football is supposed to be an escape. Fans want to be able to watch a game or ESPN and not have to deal with the garbage of the political world and it's issues. Yet, more and more over the past few years, they've begun to mix in ways that turn people off. I won't name all the different ways as to avoid that argument. But you can come up with them on your own.

8) Health concerns and public perception: We know all the details, but I think the head injury stuff has made an impact and will worse in the future. The more it becomes in vogue to pronounce football a backwoods game of stupid neanderthals, the more it will decline in favor of other games.

9) Lack of intriguing storylines: How many times can the fans of the other 31 teams care that the Patriots made a Super Bowl? This goes back to lack of parity.
I hate Colin Cowherd, but think he got this theory right. It's the Presidential Election. Trump is killing every TV number. His ratings are unprecedented. He is diminishing everything in his wake.

MNF Saints vs. Falcons was the lowest viewed MNF of all time. It went head-to-head with the debate.

A lot of political stuff happens on Sundays, and it's killing the ratings at a much higher rate.


I agree with all the other stuff you've said, but the Presidential Race is the #1 reason.
 

rob22278

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I mostly agree. In regards to #4, I know it is WAY early, but the Wentz kid in Phila may be special.
 

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I agree. I'll add that several of those things are intertwined and it's affected the flow of the game. It's rare you watch a game and can "feel" the excitement building as the momentum shifts.
 
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BoNcHiE

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I agree with all the other stuff you've said, but the Presidential Race is the #1 reason.
The problem with that is that ratings have been going down for several years. Not just this year.

The Presidential race is hurting them worse, but it's not the catalyst IMO. It's just another punch in a gut already full of punches.
 

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since bountygate ive steadily watched less and less football. could be because now i have 2 kids (born in 2011 and 2013). this year, other than the 3 saints games and 4 preseason. i might have watched a total of one game if you combine all the weeks together. and mostly its the first few minutes of the first quarter or the last few minutes of a close game. i used to drive my wife crazy watching thursday, sunday on and off from 10am (pregame shows)-10/11pm. then back at it again monday.

now i just dont care, fantasy played a part in the amount of time i watched football. now i dont even care to do that. its more annoying than fun these days. i keep saying it'll be my last year doing fantasy football but the february-august time without football calms my nerves and i start right back.

the matchups these days are no where near what they were from 2006-2011. or it could be that once the saints won the super bowl and had their hopes of doing it again ruined in SF in the 2011 playoffs, or the fact that shortly after goodell put the nail in the coffin for us for years. ive seen what i wanted to (a super bowl win for NOLA) and now just dont care.
 

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I hate Colin Cowherd, but think he got this theory right. It's the Presidential Election. Trump is killing every TV number. His ratings are unprecedented. He is diminishing everything in his wake.

MNF Saints vs. Falcons was the lowest viewed MNF of all time. It went head-to-head with the debate.

A lot of political stuff happens on Sundays, and it's killing the ratings at a much higher rate.


I agree with all the other stuff you've said, but the Presidential Race is the #1 reason.
Maybe for this past Monday. But I'm not buying that reason being #1 over all.
 

Saint Jack

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What big market teams do you think the league is purposely trying to bring back?
 

nola_dane

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It's because people care less now. Plain and simple. Basketball numbers are on the rise. The reason, because the younger generation prefers it.

Football also competes with the internet too. There's simply a lot more ways you can spend your time now than you could years ago. My whole family used to get together on Sunday's for lunch and then watch football. We haven't done that in probably 10 years. The Internet allows you to watch exactly what you want, when you want. With all these options pulling people away the NFL had to suffer.
 

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Officiating, penalties, and rules make it so unenjoyable. Every play has penalties and every drive has a questionable penalty. The more rules the tougher it is for Refs to do their job correctly. I think they need to cut back a lot and let these men play.

Edit: All I heard on MNF when there was a penalty against the Saints was Gruden grumbling about a bad call. Who was called for OPI (Cadet?) where the guy barely nudged a guy. Just awful
 

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A couple things I hate: The preferential treatment of "star players". I see the commentators constantly mentioning that the refs treat the star players differently.

Receiver X pushed off, but the refs don't call anything that would have been called on any #2/#3 guy on the depth chart.

And of course: Nobody knows what a catch is anymore. I have heard the guys calling the game guarantee something is a catch and the refs call it incomplete.

I think you hit on the #1 problem though that the teams need more time to train together in pads.

Maybe Goodell will get fired if the ratings drop low enough?
 

SystemShock

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That's a very good list.
I'd like to add to it, fantasy football and the internet.

There are lost of "fans" who only care about their fantasy scores, and will only watch Red Zone or follow stats on any website that offers them, but not watch entire games.

Then of course is the other options to watch games online, which seem to have grown 10 fold the past couple of years, mostly due to fantasy football, gambling, and people just plain fed up with giving money to the NFL because of all the points Bonchie lists.
 

Saint Jack

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Ratings aren't as useful as they were. Ratings are down for everything. Streaming is cutting into it.

I don't think that the league favors or tilts the game for large markets. You look at the most successful teams, the Patriots, Giants, Steelers, Broncos, Colts, and Packers; they have stable ownership. Even the Saints have a winning percentage above .500 during his ownership.
 

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You know, I was just talking with a friend (who also has been a die-hard Saints fan his whole life) about how the game has been so hard to watch lately that if I didn’t have 20+ years invested in the team, I’d probably drop watching the NFL all together. Keep in mind, these numbers in decline are WITH things like fantasy football inflating viewership of games people would otherwise have no interest watching.This is WITH all the outreach efforts made recently to increase female viewership.

It’s just a different game than what I remember and fell in love with as a kid….for the many reasons the OP pointed out. Because there is so much money at stake in the game, the powers that be prefer to not leave where that money is flowing up to chance.They create new rules, and make changes to existing ones, that put the outcome of a game more and more in the hands of the NFL (via officiating) every year….and use player safety as the scape goat to get it done.

Even IF you give the NFL every benefit of the doubt (against directly manipulating games), they are at the very least managing the decline of the game to something closer to flag football….which again, is not the game I remember and fell in love with.

That said, I just don&#8217;t see a way to put that genie back in the bottle. I don&#8217;t know how you roll back all the rule changes that, while might make the game more enjoyable to watch, would likely result in an increase in injuries&#8230;.something that was just a given with the sport.I don&#8217;t know how you convince the powers that be take a hands off approach to micro-managing the league in a way that MIGHT result in two small market teams making it to the championship game<O:p</O:p
 

SoggyBottomBoy

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since bountygate ive steadily watched less and less football. could be because now i have 2 kids (born in 2011 and 2013). this year, other than the 3 saints games and 4 preseason. i might have watched a total of one game if you combine all the weeks together. and mostly its the first few minutes of the first quarter or the last few minutes of a close game. i used to drive my wife crazy watching thursday, sunday on and off from 10am (pregame shows)-10/11pm. then back at it again monday.

now i just dont care, fantasy played a part in the amount of time i watched football. now i dont even care to do that. its more annoying than fun these days. i keep saying it'll be my last year doing fantasy football but the february-august time without football calms my nerves and i start right back.

the matchups these days are no where near what they were from 2006-2011. or it could be that once the saints won the super bowl and had their hopes of doing it again ruined in SF in the 2011 playoffs, or the fact that shortly after goodell put the nail in the coffin for us for years. ive seen what i wanted to (a super bowl win for NOLA) and now just dont care.
I'm not far from this, but I'll factor in my age as part of the loss of interest. It's interesting to hear this from a young fan. Many of the things that are turning me off is in Bonchie's OP. Through tremendous efforts over the years I've learned to keep my emotions in check. But, I still have a very difficult time accepting inept (and I'm not ruling out corrupt) officiating. I know mistakes will be made, but wins and losses are swinging too much on bad officiating. And, I acutally sympathize with most refs because the rule changes are too interpretive. Make it more black and white - like "the ground can't cause a fumble." Instead we can't figure out if a catch was a catch. And don't get me started on the 5-yard defensive holding penalty that bails out an offense facing 3rd or 4th and a mile...

I'm down to just watching the Saints and peaking in on a couple of games of interest.
 

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I've heard a lot of people talk about the rising salaries being a turn off. Some people just don't care to watch s bunch of millionaires play a game. Like it's a real disconnect from the average Joe.

It seems to me that college football is at an all time high though. Maybe I'm wrong. But the rivalries, insane crowds, and importance of every game, leads to more interest weekly. And though parody stops in the top 20 or 25 teams, there is always that chance of a passionate small conference school upsetting the rich big boys. (Southern Miss). Then there's the loyalty of playing 4 years in one place for free (?), and remaining loyal to the colors for life. Just a more conducive atmosphere for maintaining fans.

The NFL is just too commercial, political, bland, and soft. IMO, of course
 

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