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NFL Network’s combine ratings show league’s immense popularity

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When it was first proposed, the idea of televising the annual Indianapolis scouting combine was decried in many quarters as ridiculous: Why would anyone watch a bunch of guys running around in shorts and T-shirts?

Answer: Because it’s on TV.

The other answer: Because the NFL is immensely popular, and we’ll watch anything associated with it.

That’s backed up by the ratings NFL Network gets for the combine: Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that 5.2 million people watched last year’s combine on NFL Network. Jackson writes that those are better numbers than Major League Baseball gets on ESPN, even though ESPN is in 43 million more homes than NFL Network.

As our friends at The Big Lead put it, that’s insane.

But that’s how popular the NFL is now, so popular that when NFL Network’s combine coverage starts on Thursday, more Americans will watch a bunch of guys who are just trying to get to the NFL run 40-yard dashes than will watch actual regular-season games in any other sport.

And after the combine ends, we’ll resume wondering whether an NFL work stoppage is going to ruin a good thing.

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30 Responses to “NFL Network’s combine ratings show league’s immense popularity”
  1. jw731 says: Feb 19, 2011 12:22 PM

    I’m sorry, but you have to be a complete loser to sit at home and watch some 295 defensive tackle from say North Dakota State run around some cones….Unless you are in the business, as a reporter,agent NFL exec or something. Maybe it’s just the same people who sit at home all day playing Madden and they need a break….

  2. ron32082 says: Feb 19, 2011 12:23 PM

    NFL.com Combine Prospects invited for next week, it list 3 corners, 5 safeties, but 18 Qb’s . I wonder if these #’s are right.

  3. hobartbaker says: Feb 19, 2011 12:24 PM

    It’s the bubble butts.

  4. habibthomas says: Feb 19, 2011 12:32 PM

    Id rather watch the combine than alot of things on TV

  5. mrpizzle says: Feb 19, 2011 12:38 PM

    Way to put that “NFL” spin on it. Tell me something MDS, what else is there to watch at this time of the year?!! Basketball, psssh…puh-lease.

  6. carson9 says: Feb 19, 2011 12:48 PM

    Ofcourse it is. Its either Combine or NBA.

  7. jasongould04 says: Feb 19, 2011 12:51 PM

    Dont kill the golden goose silly owners and players!

  8. brasho says: Feb 19, 2011 12:53 PM

    And those of us that love the draft process like I do absolutely can’t wait!

  9. xtb3 says: Feb 19, 2011 12:58 PM

    What it shows is forget about the 18 game season, fans want football 52 weeks long.

  10. bcknights says: Feb 19, 2011 1:05 PM

    What else is there to watch in Feb. Boring!

  11. dismss says: Feb 19, 2011 1:21 PM

    jw731 says:
    Feb 19, 2011 12:22 PM
    I’m sorry, but you have to be a complete loser to sit at home and watch some 295 defensive tackle from say North Dakota State run around some cones….Unless you are in the business, as a reporter,agent NFL exec or something. Maybe it’s just the same people who sit at home all day playing Madden and they need a break….

    But taking the time to make comment on a Saturday afternoon is really cool…

  12. sudzy11 says: Feb 19, 2011 1:21 PM

    Having a 16 games season vs 162 games puts more emphasis on each individual game. MLB games are diluted by volume. When an NFL team draws 3 million fans for a season, then we can talk.

  13. bf53 says: Feb 19, 2011 1:25 PM

    jw731,

    As a football fan, I like watching the next set of talent. It’s nice actually knowing who the players are being drafted.

    I’d be willing to bet you don’t watch the draft though. After all, who would watch a bunch of rookies hold up a jersey and get their picture taken for a couple hours, right?

  14. hooterdawg says: Feb 19, 2011 1:30 PM

    This just proves that NFL activities attract a lot of people who have no normal life. Really, how many people would admit to their associates that they ‘couch potatoed’ watching the NFL combine rather than anything else including a MLB game?

  15. dbick says: Feb 19, 2011 2:04 PM

    we get it, the nfl is the most popular sport in America. Enough with the ratings articles.

  16. radrhatr says: Feb 19, 2011 3:04 PM

    @jw731

    You have to be a complete loser to care what anyone else does. Shouldn’t you be out doing something exciting?

  17. touchdownroddywhite says: Feb 19, 2011 3:26 PM

    And they’re a little more than 6 months away from flushing the whole thing.

    I really don’t care what anybody’s motivation or self interest is in this ordeal. If they don’t play week 1, I stop watching. I watch pre season and follow OTA’s, but I wouldn’t cry if they disappeared for this year. Week 1 is my “internal deadline” regardless of who is at fault. Put that in your juice box and suck it, NFL(PA).

  18. skoobyfl says: Feb 19, 2011 3:29 PM

    NASCAR is worse than the combine.

  19. rgledz says: Feb 19, 2011 4:37 PM

    Instead of watching the combine there is a little thing called the NHL. Fast paced, hard hitting, exciting action. Amazing athletes that put it all out there for 82 games a year. Don’t waste your time on the NBA. Who wants to see a guy emphatically celebrate a basket…….something that will happen a hundred more times in the game! Just sayin…..

  20. jutts says: Feb 19, 2011 5:17 PM

    If they don’t get this thing settled they gotta be STUPID. Are you kiddin me. We already know Goddell is a tool that is nothing more than a broker for the owners. But how much is enough.

  21. Deb says: Feb 19, 2011 5:23 PM

    @jw731 …

    Two years ago not long after I first hooked up to the NFL Network, I was sick as a dog and lying there flipping channels when I discovered the Combine. Was amazed at the curative powers of spending two days watching men in shorts running and jumping. Just revved me right up. ;)

  22. romoscollarbone says: Feb 19, 2011 5:25 PM

    I don’t sit and watch the Combine, sec by sec. However I do DVR it and fast forward to watch guys that I’m curious about go thru the paces. The Combine being televised is def cool.

  23. snaponrules says: Feb 19, 2011 5:26 PM

    I watch the NFL Channel pretty over all the other sports (nfl) shows on the other channels. With the execption of when the idiot deon sanders or his coke head brother irvin are talking. At that point the TV goes over to another channel.

  24. jollyrob68 says: Feb 19, 2011 5:27 PM

    Its a chance to the players you hope/want your team to draft. Its a chance to see some players you don’t know and can look them up on you tube.

  25. jollyrob68 says: Feb 19, 2011 5:39 PM

    There are linemen I don’t know and want to see. Then I can try and make a better mock draft.

  26. hobartbaker says: Feb 19, 2011 5:49 PM

    Jackson revealed that the show brought in 97% of what has become popularly known as the “Cougar” demographic.

  27. CKL says: Feb 19, 2011 5:54 PM

    rgledz says: Feb 19, 2011 4:37 PM

    Instead of watching the combine there is a little thing called the NHL. Fast paced, hard hitting, exciting action. Amazing athletes that put it all out there for 82 games a year. Don’t waste your time on the NBA. Who wants to see a guy emphatically celebrate a basket…….something that will happen a hundred more times in the game! Just sayin…..
    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    You are right, hockey is a great sport and probably the one I could most likely get into were there no NFL. I was a big fan of it as a kid. I just can’t love it as much as I want to…my heart belongs to pro football.

    I thank the football gods every day for NFLN.

    Deb…you forgot sweating. ;)

  28. baldeagle6 says: Feb 19, 2011 5:59 PM

    The 18 QBs invitees necessarily include a bunch of “arms” who are there merely to throw the gauntlet and other passing drills done primarily for the benefit of the receivers.

    That probably pertains to some majority of the 18, even in what is surely a down year for QBs.

    Then again, didn’t Tony Romo get noticed by Bill Parcells when Romo was just one of the “arm” QBs?

  29. Deb says: Feb 19, 2011 10:22 PM

    @CKL …

    That, too lol Like you, I’m a one sport girl, though I also watch NCAA football. As a Bama fan, couldn’t stand Tim Tebow. But checking in on last year’s Combine, I suddenly became aware of his, um, assets. Not worthy of a first-round pick, in my opinion, but … enough to make a Sunday school teacher feel guilty for letting her mind wander :oops:

  30. andyreidisfat says: Feb 19, 2011 10:57 PM

    Having a 16 games season vs 162 games puts more emphasis on each individual game. MLB games are diluted by volume. When an NFL team draws 3 million fans for a season, then we can talk.

    This is a dumb statement. The NFL has like 5 teams that don’t sell out every game including preseason and MLB has like 4 or 5 that even come close to selling out every game. In fact outside of the phillies and redsocks what MLB team even sells out every game. Total numbers can not be counted as they don’t play the same amount of games and the stadiums for football are much bigger (cuz they get more fans) so the real test would be percentage of seats sold against seats total. And since this is the case the nfl is wildly more popular than the other sports combined. Just another reason for the players to give a lil bit money back (most of witch could be in the rookie cap) and the league should stop pushing this silly 18 game deal.

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