When it comes to TV ratings, the NFL rarely if ever has to employ the spin cycle that has been working overtime when it comes to the lockout. The numbers have been going up and up and up, and the growth always speaks for itself.
This year, the trend has reversed itself. Sharply. The ratings dropped by 22 percent for Thursday night, with an average audience of only seven million viewers for round one.
And so the excuses are subtly-but-surely emerging. The draft was competing with shows like The Office and Big Bang Theory and American Idol, not to mention the NBA playoffs.
It doesn’t matter.
There are always other viewing options when NFL programming takes to the airwaves. And fans usually make their preference for pro football known, loudly.
This year, the only fact that really matters is the comparison of last year’s audience to this year’s. Viewership dropped by 22 percent.
Hopefully, the NFL and the players will realize that the lockout and the antitrust litigation and a general sense of upheaval and confusion caused the drop. Even more hopefully, this will serve as a proverbial bucket of ice water on Tim McCarver’s head.