NFL acknowledges, but downplays, ratings drop

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Fewer people have been watching the NFL on TV this year. The NFL previously had said nothing about it.

Now, the NFL has. And it’s along the lines of, “All is well.”

We’re missing some stars out there,” NFL media chief Brian Rolapp said, via the Wall Street Journal. Indeed they are, in part because they suspended one of the greatest players in league history on a trumped-up charge.

Rolapp also said that the NFL previously has experienced slow ratings starts, but that the league ultimate has “done just fine.”

No one is suggesting the league won’t do “just fine.” The goal for any successful business, however, is to do better than “just fine.” The goal is to keep growing and growing and growing and any sign of anything other than growth becomes cause for genuine concern.

Of course, it’s entirely possible the NFL is concerned, and that neither Rolapp nor anyone else will say anything that suggests concern for fear of the issue gaining momentum unnecessarily, as the media reacts to the expressions of concern and publicizes them and analyzes them and makes the concerns legitimate and more widespread.

Network executives like Eric Shanks of FOX have pointed to the election as a reason for reduced TV viewership. Les Moonves of CBS dismissed the issue; “I don’t think the sky is falling,” Moonves said.

He’s right. The sky isn’t falling. But the horizon also isn’t expanding, either, which is the dynamic the NFL has enjoyed through recession and political unrest and war and shifting viewing habits and anything and everything else the United States has experienced since the Colts beat the Giants in the 1958 NFL title game, sparking the emergence of a sports league that has dominated the American landscape.

The domination persists, but there are real signs that it may be shrinking. Notwithstanding the reality that league and network executives will say what they have to say to downplay concerns, it’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously behind closed doors.

99 responses to “NFL acknowledges, but downplays, ratings drop

  1. It’s on too often. Games now played on Thursday and Sunday night are spreading the product too thin. When the bye’s kick in, the problem becomes worse. The networks demand marquee matchups for their primetime matchups thus resulting in Sunday afternoon snoozefests. The pig is getting too fat and it needs to go on a diet or get slaughtered.

  2. The “victim”/Social Justice Warrior culture is bad for business because most people with real lives and real jobs are sick of the politically-correct nonsense that is undermining Western Society.

    No one want to pay to see or hear someone lecture them and tell them how bad they are when they are not bad and never oppressed anyone in their life.

    Play football or get lost.

  3. Brady is a cheater; cheated at the AFC Championship game. That nullifies that win and the subsequent Super Bowl. Spygate nullifies all there other Super Bowls. The NFL got it right. They did not get the punishment right. He should have been suspended for life and all titles, wins reversed. That would have been the right thing to do. But it really doesn’t matter. Nobody believes the Patriots titles or victories actually count anymore. Brady knows he’s guilt but he has no shame. He’d crawl on his belly and clean Roger Goodell’s underwear just to get back on the field for one more play. He doesn’t want to talk about Deflategate anymore because he knows he did it. An innocent future hall of famer would be out there defending his name. He would have taken it to civil court. Not Brady. He knows he’s guilty!

  4. No mention in this article about the possible effect on ratings from the players kneeling during the national anthem. Sometimes your agenda gets in the way of good, honest reporting.

  5. The games aren’t as good. There’s more commercials than ever. Nobody has a clue what a catch is.

    Dear Leader has systematically changed the game for the worse at every turn, all to increase revenue streams. It is possible their policy of fleecing their fanbase at every turn may finally be reaching critical mass.

    Also, while players/coaches have every right as Americans to protest whatever they please, it is demonstrably not good for business.

    Oh, and nobody wants a franchise is London.

    These things must eventually bring about decline. It’s not a catastrophe, for sure, it’s more of a market correction, in all likelihood.

  6. I am protesting tonight’s game in honor of the dirt bag that is so oppressed that he makes millions to sit on the bench… I can’t stand to watch his oppression on the pine

  7. Manufacturing evidence to derail New England exposed the NFL as just another corrupt, vindictive sports league on par with FIFA and the Olympic Committee.

    The NFL deserves these ratings failures.
    Remember Goodell wanted this, he pushed this…..he gloated over this. The buck stops with Roger. Why owners have allowed Roger to be the face of the NFL is the worst decision in corporate America since New Coke.

  8. Have you ever considered the fact Millennials don’t watch TV like previous generations? They watch on phones, Ipads, etc. and there is also the fact it’s become a short attention span world. Why sit through a game when you can DVR it and skip through the commercials.

    There is a possibility the game is not as popular as it once was, but the easiest answer to the question is that trends change and people aren’t watching TV in general the way they have in the past. The NFL is still the most watched product on TV by a large margin so I don’t see them having much to worry about.

  9. The kneenling has no impact on the ratings, its due to the large number of crap games.

    The league needs to be on top of whats popular and show games people want to see.

    Too many flags for taunting, and minor ticky tack things.

  10. Obviously fans have lived with bad calls, preferential scheduling for at patriots, and tons of commercials for years. The one thing that is different for fans this year is the kneeling during the anthem. I know that’s why I don’t watch.

  11. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the egomaniacal jerk that runs the league or the minion owners that enable him. Americans will put up with a lot, but, at some point, you do need to actually have some accountability for those at the top.

  12. I’m only watching my team play. That’s different than any other year. It’s because I’m tired of seeing the shield, especially when it’s been about politics and legal matters more than incredible plays and crushing hits.

  13. People really think this is related to Peyton or Brady?!?! LOL.

    Guess what? It’s late summer/early fall, the weather is gorgeous and people are busy with real life: back to school/athletics, festivals/carnivals, etc. when it gets cold/rainy/snowy everyone will flock back to their TV’s.

  14. Too much exposure, time to end Thursday Night Football, red zone channel, international games and online streaming of games. Make us want to see games, hard week at work, football on Sunday, now it’s 24hr, 7 days a week.

  15. Defenseless Receiver? Eliminating kickoffs? Suspending the best player in the league for an equipment violation? Concussion protocol in key moments? I hope they’re not wondering what happened.

  16. If game isn’t playoff contenders…..I tune out by end of 1st quarter after my fill of viagra commercials. It is literally advertising breaks interrupted by a few minutes of crappy football.

  17. With NFL heroes like Antonio Cromartie kneeling for the national anthem it’s no wonder. He protests a country that has allowed him to father 12 children with 8 different women. The scumbag owes $336,000 in child support, yet was rewarded with another $3 million contract. Finally the Colts wised up & released him. Let him find another country that will give him an opportunity to become rich enough to continue his philandering.

  18. Enough of the flags for everything. Someone scores a touchdown and here comes a flag. Let them celebrate who cares?
    Every punt and kickoff has a block in the back even when it’s nowhere near the play. Every time a CB makes a play the WR is looking for a flag. What is a catch? Kneeling during the anthem? Fine them 1/4 of their pay per instance. That will end!
    Still the greatest game but there is work to do!

  19. The problem is that nfl stars don’t like this country. Now the watching public isn’t liking them.

  20. Thursday Sunday Monday games, missing stars, Kaep, druggies, concussion issues, Roger, owners, players, NFL every day of the year. Even the hardiest NFL fan feels under assault.

  21. The NFL did it to themselves when they gave a lot of media attention to players that kneel during the national anthem.

  22. How to increase ratings:

    1. Let players celebrate hits and touchdowns but not their anti-American politics

    2. Be more pro-American and kill the SEW-politically correct garbage

    3. Only have teams play on Thursday after a by-week as that product is garbage

  23. Hey NFL!!! — It’s time to release the 2015 PSI information or start awarding award draft picks to the Patriots for the 2017 draft.

    Science says that footballs deflated naturally.

    The NFL refuses to release the 2015 PSI information because science is predictable and those with working brains already know what that PSI information will show.

    That PSI information will show that the NFL owes the Patriots a 1st round draft pick in the 2017 draft. That draft pick should be an earlier pick than the one the pick that was stolen in the 2016 draft.

    The draft pick should be higher to make up for losing the use of a 1st round player for a season. Plus 31 teams all were allowed to move up one position in the rest of the draft.

    The NFL should award the Patriots another 1st round draft pick in the 2017 draft to make up for Tom Brady being forced to miss 25% of the 2016 season.

    The NFL also needs to reinstate the stolen 2017 4th round pick.

  24. Anyone that has taken business classes knows that these things happen in cycles. Regardless of the product it with experience different stages. Remember how popular wrestling was in the late 90s?

  25. I’m a long-time, big-time season ticket holder and I love the game. But the money has gotten obscene. While we all knew that, add latest ticket price jumps again AND we see players making millions using OUR time for protesting. It’s a big turn-off. I watch football to escape from the reality of how jacked up the world is. Now I just get reminded of it by watching NFL games.

  26. Bubbalicious says:
    Oct 6, 2016 7:39 PM
    Brady is a cheater; cheated at the AFC Championship game. That nullifies that win and the subsequent Super Bowl. Spygate nullifies all there other Super Bowls. The NFL got it right. They did not get the punishment right. He should have been suspended for life and all titles, wins reversed. That would have been the right thing to do. But it really doesn’t matter. Nobody believes the Patriots titles or victories actually count anymore. Brady knows he’s guilt but he has no shame. He’d crawl on his belly and clean Roger Goodell’s underwear just to get back on the field for one more play. He doesn’t want to talk about Deflategate anymore because he knows he did it. An innocent future hall of famer would be out there defending his name. He would have taken it to civil court. Not Brady. He knows he’s guilty!

    ———————————————————————-

    It’s sad that there can still be individuals that continue to believe that Brady cheated. It must be that the Bell Curve needs those people to be on the left side to balance things out.

    Considering that the following information has been available for many months:

    • Science says that footballs lose PSI when moved to where it is cold. (actually this one has been true since the invention of footballs).

    • Scientists have stated that the weather explains the deflation.

    • Numerous videos are available online where you can watch the PSI drop on PSI gauges when footballs are placed into refrigerators.

    • The NFL continues to keep the PSI information secret even though it was collected during the 2015 season.

  27. When the game ceases to be about the game and instead about a Commie who says this country was never great yet makes millions of dollars for holding a clipboard while wearing a pro Castro and Che Shirt, uh yeah ratings are going to suffer.

  28. With social engineering being being pushed in the fans face with the broadcast, advertisements, pre game, post game and commentators, who needs it? Add to that the complex rules, endless commercials.

    Why does the media need to be SJW’s?

    Easier to just turn off the TV. The print media has been self destructing for years. Networks have reached their pinnacle and are in decline.

  29. The NFL didn’t understand science.

    Once it was explained to them, the NFL lied about science.

    The NFL blamed the best player in the league for something that was explained by science.

    The NFL is keeping the PSI information collected during the 2015 season secret because it will show that the NFL lied about science.

  30. Brady is a cheater; cheated at the AFC Championship game. That nullifies that win and the subsequent Super Bowl. Spygate nullifies all there other Super Bowls.

    ———–

    Except that he isn’t, he didn’t, and it doesn’t — everything else is accurate.

    Last time I checked, the people who are actually in control didn’t nullify anything. Move on with your life.

  31. When Brady wins his 5th Super Bowl, he will be deemed the greatest QB of them all. If nothing changes, he’s in the top 3 of anyones conversation.

  32. Um, this all started with that buffoon NFL Employee on the sidelines. Thoughts and Prayers out to the family of the Missouri cop ambushed and killed today during a routine traffic stop.

  33. When the National Football League hates the nation, then naturally the people of the hated nation will not be fond of the NFL who does not want to be part of the nation.

  34. I agree. Brady’s suspension has had nothing to do with this. A huge majority fans believe Brady is guilty and agreed with his punishment. I think there are many reasons. I watch every game at a tavern, with several otherfans.

  35. jchipwood says:
    Oct 6, 2016 7:54 PM

    preferential scheduling for at patriots,

    ——————————————————————
    Except those that actually follow football understand that the schedules of all 32 teams is done by a formula. You could look that up if you spent less time obsessing over Brady and the Patriots.

    Elvis was alive the last time your Dolphins won a superbowl but that doesn’t excuse that kind of jealousy.

  36. The NFL and Roger Goodell make buckets of money. They have and will continue to do so. The only thing that happened while Brady was suspended is, he sat home and was barred from NFL facilities. Goodell wins, the NFL wins, people of integrity won. The Pats, Brady and Kraft lost! Stained into eternity!

  37. People are watching less TV
    People don’t want to watch 3 hours of TV to get 1.5 hours of commercials.
    The quality of play sucks
    Fantasy Football
    Redzone why watch an entire game ?
    Multiple nights and lousy games
    Millennials have the attention span of a nat anything longer than 40 characters is to long never mind 3hours !

    The NFL is in trouble !

  38. limakey says:
    Oct 6, 2016 8:53 PM

    A huge majority fans believe Brady is guilty and agreed with his punishment.

    —————————————————————
    Its more like 50% of the people on the planet. Not just football fans. Those are the same 50% of the people that make up the left side of the Bell Curve.

  39. Thursday Sunday Monday games, missing stars, Kaep, druggies, concussion issues, Roger, owners, players, NFL every day of the year. Even the hardiest NFL fan feels under assault.

    Sums it up nicely but I would like to add penalties also.

  40. All you have to do is look at what went on tonight. They had to show the kneelers. Deion did his race baiting act. It’s difficult to understand what Cowher is getting at. None of the NFL Network and CBS stiffs selected the 49ers to win. A commercial runs after every change of possession which negates the need for timeouts.

  41. When fans see players protesting for a cause which is based on lies, the fans find other things to do with their time. It is that simple, deny it if you want.

    To the point where the NFL sees no problems on the horizon, even with the ratings drop, some foresight is obviously needed. This scenario is exactly what NASCAR had happen to them. They also denied any problems and shrugged the low ratings off as an anomaly. Where would someone tune into a NASCAR race now? Some obscure sports network. It isn’t on network TV anymore and the stands look empty. They still deny the problem is the product. I guess the NFL will kick the can down the road until it is too late as well.

  42. For years conservatives refused to boycott. Anathema to what we believe. But after years of being attacked and derided by liberals like Florio and business’ like the NFL we have decided to flex our muscles.

    It is funny to see people try to come up with all sorts of other reasons Target and the NFL are on a downward trend despite the obvious.

    We’re done with you acting like we don’t matter. Get your crap together or it will get worse.

  43. limakey says:
    Oct 6, 2016 8:53 PM

    A huge majority fans believe Brady is guilty and agreed with his punishment.

    —————————————————————
    No, ESPN surveyed about 115 people, probably mostly Jets and Dolphins fans, majority of them believe he’s guilty because they want him to be. As my mother used to say “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.” The information that proves Goodell lied and railroaded Brady is freely available, read it and free yourself of your obsession before it’s too late.

  44. Switch, true footballs fans did not want him to be guilty. He had a truly remarkable NFL story. He blew that up himself. Just like Lance Armstrong did. He cheated, got caught, refused to man up and his cover story is nothing but a pack of lies.

  45. Players are not allowed to celebrate TDs but they are not stopped from participating in non-football statements?!

    Show of hands as to how many of you could mouth off to the boss and keep your job?!!

    You political and religious nutjobs need to pipe down and leave the rest of us good, quiet citizens alone.

  46. NFL has lost me as a fan this season for any game in which the Anthem is disrespected; so I’m NOT watching tonight, since the ringleader of the disrespect is on the field.

    Same will hold true henceforth.

  47. grandsonofcoach says:
    Oct 6, 2016 9:39 PM
    Wait. I thought bringing a team back to the number 1 TV market was supposed to do great things for the NFL and it’s ratings.

    ————————

    Unfortunately for the NFL, someone failed to notify them that the #1 TV market also happens to be a lousy sports town.

  48. I live in California (SD) and I can tell you the rest of the country that the economy in California is collapsing as we speak. The economy started dropping earlier this year and now even in the rich Bay Area people are starting to move out.

    Every year, 100,000 people are leaving Los Angeles. Look it up in the US Census. 100k every single year–from one metro.

    The poor attendance is in part because the California economy is plummeting. Word of warning.

  49. I haven’t watched a single game this year as a direct result of these disgusting anthem protests and don’t plan on watching any including the post season. Lifelong 49ers fan now an EX 49ers fan happy they are getting pounded by the Cards right now.

  50. Deflategate ruined the NFL for me.

    I will not watch any games that do not involve the Patriots until Goodell is gone and the league office stops meddling to try to give certain teams advantages over others.

  51. I found the NBA pretty compelling last year, with the Warriors winning 73 games and the Cavs winning a championship for Cleveland. I still watch my home NFL team, but nothing else. The NFL has gotten worse and worse uh under Goodell. It’s totally oversaturated with ridiculous news stories, constant rule changes and moves that are obviously motivated purely by greed. I’m weening myself off the NFL for these reasons.

  52. Limakey, your hundreds and hundreds of obsessive “Brady is guilty” posts never contain definite proof of guilt. Know why? Because there has never been any. I don’t know which tavern you hang out at, but I know a “huge majority” of people that think there was no grand scheme, and at most, the balls were kept on the lighter side of legal. So at best (or worst)—big deal. Relax. If Goodell didn’t make things up as he goes along, it’s a 25K fine, because that’s exactly what it’s worth.

    I’m not sure which team you root for, which would clear up a lot of our wonder where you get your anti-Patriot passion from. At least admit where your bias comes from. We notice most of this sort of cult is made of Steeler, Jets, Dolphins, and Seahawks fans, you know, the ones who have been had by Brady over the years the most, or were victims of some key, brutal losses at his hand. There is a direct correlation in the level of vitriol from the fans of these teams who are just sick of the Patriots, Belichick and Brady winning at the level that they have over the past generation and believe me, I get it.

    At any rate, you clearly have an agenda against him, and we clearly have an agenda to defend. Either way, he’s a great player who has won an extraordinary amount of games in this league.

    That’s about all anyone definitely knows for sure.

  53. No desire to watch any other games anymore except the team I cheer for, and that isn’t even a given. You can get updates on your phone, watch highlights or even games on your phone, no reason to waste a day watching all the games…and there is too much football on, from now Wednesday thru Monday some level is being broadcast.

  54. jchipwood says:
    Oct 6, 2016 7:54 PM

    Obviously fans have lived with bad calls, preferential scheduling for at patriots, and tons of commercials for years. The one thing that is different for fans this year is the kneeling during the anthem. I know that’s why I don’t watch.
    ——————————————————
    Ya, sure Chippy. Fans have lived with bad calls and commercials for years. I’ll even accept your reason for not watching is a protest against oppression. But both you and I know the real reason, the coup de gras, is the fact your Dolphins stink, again, as usual, continuing over 40 years of playing seasons with nothing to show for it. I’d give up too.

  55. limakey says:
    Oct 6, 2016 10:17 PM
    Switch, true footballs fans did not want him to be guilty. He had a truly remarkable NFL story. He blew that up himself. Just like Lance Armstrong did. He cheated, got caught, refused to man up and his cover story is nothing but a pack of lies.
    —————-
    There’s absolutely zero evidence that Brady cheated. The science clearly supports the opposite. The NFL cheated to try and bring parody to the league. Deflategate was a witch hunt generated by a couple butt-hurt teams making up garbage about the Patriots because they were embarrassed in consecutive weeks.
    These are the facts, you can keep Trumping the information but it doesn’t make it right. If you believe Brady cheated you also have to believe Luck cheated, otherwise you’re a total fraud.

  56. Showe a study where “scientists” said or proved Brady didn’t cheat. For the umpteenth time, the ideal gas law does not apply to the footballs in that game. There is no physical/scientific explanation for the balls losing that much air. They had to be tampered with. This is ample evidence that the Patriots have cheated throughout Belichecks entire tenure

  57. Limakey,
    Don’t I remember you once admitting you were a Bills fan, like your father before you? Doesn’t explain your extreme position on Brady and/or your support of Goodell. But it was one of the reasons why I used to feel sorry for you. I don’t anymore.

  58. The most obvious reason is that have just about destroyed the game by taking the physically out of the game. The moronic rule changes, the never ending penalties, the constant stoppage of play. The owners don’t want contact for fear of lawsuits, its disgusting and disgraceful. There is so much more I could say on the subject, but I know real football fans are sick and tired of all the changes, and not for the better. I’ll just say to the owners, you reap what you sow.

  59. For one to say that the idiots who are kneeling during national anthem have no bearing on people watching have no idea what is going on.You watch the scumbags on there knee if not for football would be robing Seven Elevens in your neighborhood.Someone like Cromartee who the day after retires will have nothing.

  60. Way to go Kaep You ruined football with your political BS! Let’s keep politics out of football. I watch my team and my team only and will continue to do so. Kaep ruined it for me by showing how spoiled these athletes are! Go America

  61. At a time when cable-cutting is on the rise, TV viewership is on the decline broadly, and consumers demand more and greater flexibility in their viewing options, major networks dictating the slate of national broadcasts is a 20th century model that is clearly out-of-sync with the audience they hope to reach, and the DirecTV choke-hold on alternative broadcasts is a problem for the NFL. They have yet to hit on a viable distribution method that doesn’t gut the ad revenue that is still the largest coin in their coffers, and it is likely to remain that way in the near term.

    Meanwhile, oversaturation, a diluted or sub-par product, burnout, shifting demographics, changing viewer habits, and more pressing current events will continue to erode the ratings.

    In short, the NFL right now is kind of a reflection of our current presidential elections: it is both out-of-touch with a large swathe of the population, and while it has the right trappings it’s nothing to get really excited about.

  62. The ratings are not down because Brady was out and Manning retired. The ratings are down because Goodell and his posse in NY continue to destroy the fabric of the game.

  63. Putting on games like 49ers vs Cardinals will make your ratings drop. Bruuuuuuuutal.

    Nobody wants to watch Chips Ahoy and the good ship 49er pull a Titanic, what a yawnfest.

  64. limakey says:
    Oct 6, 2016 10:17 PM

    Switch, true footballs fans did not want him to be guilty. He had a truly remarkable NFL story. He blew that up himself. Just like Lance Armstrong did. He cheated, got caught, refused to man up and his cover story is nothing but a pack of lies.
    ————————————————
    The information that proves Goodell lied and railroaded Brady is freely available, read it and free yourself of your unhealthy obsession before it’s too late.

  65. Has nothing to do with Brady or Peyton. That case could be made if only Patriots or Broncos games had low ratings but not league wide.

    People aren’t skipping a MN vs CHI game because Brady isn’t playing the Fins some other day.

    I swear, how some of you come to conclusions makes me hope you’re not in a position to mold young minds.

  66. 1. NFL’s numerous and inconsistently handled ‘scandals’
    2. Whining and disillusioned millionaires
    3. Players that make a good play acting like they just destroyed ISIS by themselves
    4. Overall QB talent is poor at best
    5. Boring games
    6. Lack of real superstars
    7. Omnipresent NFL – in the news cycle year round, NFL related commercials, too many commercials featuring NFL players (Manning’s, Matthews, Gronk, Rogers), NFL related tv and tech/online content
    8. Over indulgence of the Superbowl which has rarely been all that super
    9. Herr Goodell, Blandino
    10. Inconsistently applied rules and penalties
    11. Pre-season games
    12. Overseas games

  67. limakey says:
    Oct 6, 2016 10:17 PM

    Switch, true footballs fans did not want him to be guilty. He had a truly remarkable NFL story. He blew that up himself. Just like Lance Armstrong did. He cheated, got caught, refused to man up and his cover story is nothing but a pack of lies.
    ………..

    Some would say Goodell is the owner of a pack of lies.
    Like his own Brady appeal transcript compared to his own appeal decision.
    Or the Mueller Report.
    Or concussion scientists.
    Or physicists.
    Or anyone who knows the working definition of the word “independent”.
    Or the accountants who realized Goodell helped the owners hide $120mil in shared revenue from the players.
    Or the Saints and Dolphins staffs.
    He is proven to not be credible and yet you believe everything he says.

  68. NFL = No Fun League. I’m sick of the penalties for TD dances and the constant rule changes. What the hell is a catch? Stop making things so goddam complicated. General Goodell and his gang of ding dongs need to step back and listen to the fans for once. >:o(

  69. I have been out on the NFL since the Ray Rice deal. The last NFL game I wanted to watch was Peyton Manning win the Super Bowl. A fitting ending to the NFL.
    The players and the league are absolutely disgusting. Kapernick is the icing on the cupcakes. You deserve his kind. You reap what you sew.
    Adios!

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