The NFL will complain about but ultimately retain the preseason for the same reason the NFL complains about but ultimately retains the Pro Bowl.
People watch it.
An average of 8.9 million viewers tuned in for Sunday night’s non-game game between the Colts and Steelers, with the audience maxing out at 10.3 million between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Based on those preliminary numbers, NBC won the ratings battle for the evening. Even though preseason was and always will be glorified practice.