Commissioner Roger Goodell’s well-publicized, and curiously-timed, letter to fans focused on a variety of intriguing topics. On some, he was clear. On one he was vague.
“We . . . know that you feel there are too many elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field,” Goodell wrote. “With our partners, we will be looking to instead focus on content that is most complementary and compelling to you — whether that is analysis, highlights or stories about our players. All of these changes are meant to give you more of what you want: a competitive game with fewer interruptions and distractions from the action.”
Appearing on Thursday’s Mike & Mike, Goodell elaborated on his point.
“It could be commercial related, it could be an advertisement for selling a jersey, it could be a promo for something that the network’s running that week,” Goodell said. “And frankly, to be blunt about it, it’s like an intrusion on the game. And I sense that. I’ve felt the increased commercialization.”
While I personally can’t recall any in-game “advertisement[s] for selling a jersey” (other than the Nike ad necessarily contained on every jersey) promotions “for something that the network’s running that week” have been part of the game broadcasts for decades. It’s one of the reasons why the networks pay billions-with-a-b for the rights to broadcast the games. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons networks have justified taking a net loss on their NFL deals; they make it back by pumping up the rest of the network’s offerings.
When the game is happening, there are few diversions from the explanation of the play and the reaction to it. Promos happen during the lulls in the action, or when the game returns from a commercial break.
In recent years, the most notable intrusion on the game has been the ongoing effort to wedge the Microsoft tablet into the broadcast. And with the looming changes to the replay system, there will be more — not fewer — shots of the tablet, which the league gets hundreds of millions to promote.
So if “increased commercialization” is a problem, it needs to be scrutinized in all forms. And it presumably rules out for good conclusively potential innovations/intrusions like the inevitable (in the minds of some) expansion of uniform advertisement from the logo of the company that made the jersey.