CBS Sports chairman blames declined ratings on oversaturation

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When FOX CEO James Murdoch blamed the decline in NFL ratings on oversaturation from products like Thursday Night Football, the NFL responded in part by targeting the messenger not the message, given that FOX doesn’t broadcast Thursday night games. That approach won’t apply this time around.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus has attributed the ratings decline to oversaturation as well, specifially citing the Thursday product that his network carries.

“I do think it’s clear that adding 10 games to the Thursday night package and two additional Sunday morning London games has clearly diluted the Sunday afternoon packages and affected the ratings,” McManus told the Wall Street Journal, via AwfulAnnouncing.com. “It’s just simple mathematics.”

As Alex Putterman of AwfulAnnouncing.com points out, McManus had a different take in early 2016, as the league was expandeing its TV offerings.

“Whenever the NFL adds programming, the appetite seems to be there from fans, and the ratings keep getting better,” McManus said at the time. “We had our highest-rated AFC championship game in 29 years. So there doesn’t seem to be a lessening of interest on the part of fans and viewers. I think Thursday night is going to continue, we’re going to continue to improve the ratings, and it’s going to continue to be a really valuable franchise and a real viewing destination for viewers, for fans.”

Then came the decline, which was believed to be sparked by the election in 2016 and which may be the result of various factors in 2017. Regardless, the comments from McManus call into question whether CBS even wants to continue to broadcast Thursday Night Football, which the NFL currently awards on a year-to-year basis, in 2018.

51 responses to “CBS Sports chairman blames declined ratings on oversaturation

  1. Oversaturation is just one of the myriad of problems.

    People will blame kneeling for the anthem and “politics in football”, but that’s pretty far down the list of issues why ratings have fallen.

    Oversaturation, too many bad teams, too few superstars worth tuning in for, too many other options on TV, price of games, I could go on.

  2. Thursday night football could, and should, go away.

    Most fans don’t like it. None of the teams don’t like it. None of the players don’t like it.

    But TNF isn’t the reason for the decline of ratings on MNF or Sunday.

    Unless your team is playing – you never needed to watch it. I would only watch TNF is it was a really great matchup before – but now – due to the kneelers – I won’t.

    But you (that’s a generic you) are ignoring the elephant in the room if you refuse to admit that a significant portion of the ratings drop is coming from people like me. We’ll watch our teams – but are refusing to watch any other games.

    Besides not watching more than 1 game a week, I have taken the time to discuss my feelings with my contacts with the team (ticket office and a personal long time contact in the marketing department). I also no longer purchase any NFL gear.

    It’s the best way I know of to add to my personal contacts with the team to let my voice be heard. I’m in my own way affecting the NFL’s income. This will affect both the owners and the players.

    As profits go down for the owners, salaries will go down (or at least stop rising) for the players.

    If this continues to go on – my next step is to cancel my season tickets. The only reason I haven’t is that my team has not had a single kneeler.

  3. The only thing the media covers in America is controversy. To me that is the biggest part of the decline of television. Television is escapism. Sports are escapism.People no longer talk about the best players or the best performances. That’s the topics that have carried sports talk for generations. All sports talk is today is gossip. It doesn’t matter if it’s TV, radio or print. Gossip and controversy hog the conversation. The sports media are killing themselves off in the quest for “clicks.”

  4. he’s not wrong…..but its complicated

    In its glory days, the NFL mirrored that of College Football.
    It offered a ton of highly spirited / competitive games on ONE DAY, on a AVAILABLE channels, with limited interruptions. A fan could gear up for a 3-6 hour window of their “fun”.

    Now, its multiple days, on weekdays, lasting 4 hours, always interrupted with commercials, replays, celebrations after EVERY play, reviews, challenges, and on multiple broadcasters requiring special subscription services. Not to mention the over-litigation of every play…..They broke the game. It isn’t even something worth watching any longer, not to mention dealing with the headache of drama queen players. If it’s not a protest over this, its complaining that they don’t get paid enough, or that they can’t deal with the pressure of being paid millions.

  5. 2015:Identity politics not in the NFL. 2017: Identity politics all over the NFL. There’s a difference.
    What’s not different: Thursday games. London games. SNF. Just because you don’t WANT the reason to be politics doesn’t mean that it isn’t. I think the former NFL viewer can speak for themselves why they aren’t watching. Remember this is CBS. I am sure the news dept. is right down the hall. Their excuse is predictable.

  6. Right or wrong…Average Joe interprets kneeling for the anthem as disrespecting the country. But let’s not talk about the 800 lb elephant in the room.

  7. So he is simply ignoring every single poll that says there’s a different reason that people aren’t watching…….

  8. People aren’t even posting about watching the Eagles on my Facebook newsfeed anymore and they’re 7-1. It’s not over saturation. It’s politicizing football, the thing everyone could just enjoy on their weekends. 90% of my newsfeed was Eagles this time of year 3 years ago. Now, it’s 20%.

  9. “I work around a lot of officers… and everyone has told me they tuned out because of kneeling”

    Cool anecdote! I work around thousands of military members… and every single one of them has told me they tuned out because of kneeling. See? It’s easy to create random, anonymous, extremely unlikely anecdotes. In no acceptable sample size of free thinking people would every single one of them have the exact same motivation, let alone would every single one of them tell you of that motivation in the same manner. Statistics.

  10. Gotta tell you, Thursday night is often the ONLY NFL I can fit in. Times have changed. Sunday from 1 to 7 is just packed with other stuff in a lot of households these days, including ours.

    I love TNF, but it has been a year since I’ve wat her MNF. It’s hard to start the work week with a late night watching MNF, but it is easy to wrap up Thursday night with a game.

  11. I mean, who would have thought that taking 1 game for every team and making half the fans unable to watch it would be a problem? And that having fewer games on Sunday would drop ratings on sunday

    TNF has been a joke since its inception. It was created to push NFL network onto people and made it that any national fans of a team (ie, outside their market) either buy the added TV package or dont get to watch the games

    Its bad for the players too, forces them to play without any rest from the previous game and dosnt give them time to heal and game plan. And then on the back side messes with the fairness of a game by giving teams a week and a half of practice while facing opponents with just 1 week.

    There are a lot of other factors such as the over commercialization of the game, lessening parity between the haves and havenots in the NFL(aka, the Browns and the Jags and the Jets can basically be written off at any moment while the Pats, Seahawks and Packers can seemingly do no wrong), the boringness of games recently (more shutouts in week 6 than in all of 2016)and the politicization of the game (many blame players, but basically everyone had forgotten and let it go until certain outside people got involved and made it a thing again)

  12. I watch the Game of the Week and that’s it. The other games are rarely interesting enough to watch.

    I have a life to live and it doesn’t revolve around the NFL, or the NCAA, for that matter, and I find the college game a better game.

    An interesting statistic would be to see if the handle on the games is decreasing, too.

  13. So he is simply ignoring every single poll that says there’s a different reason that people aren’t watching…….
    _______________________________________________________

    See, I dont know where all these supposed people are. Nobody I know has stopped watching because of the kneeling. My hyper conservative friend who has PUBLICLY said he doesnt like the kneeling, bought tickets to a game for the first time in years despite never regularly watching football since I knew him (hes a baseball guy). My Father takes great problems with the protest and publicly talks about it, but he watches maybe 1 game a year and thats only when the team plays on christmas eve and he knows I want to watch it. Another friend says he doesnt like the protests, but every week is texting me about how bad his team is doing in real time.

    Point being, im a small sample size. Im sure some people HAVE stopped watching because of the protests. But in my personal experience, the people who hate the protests and the “disrespect” either dont care enough to stop watching, or never were watching to begin with.

  14. It’s a comnbination of things, but the key word here is “baggage”.

    It’s more than “anthem kneeling”, bit’s Goodell’s constant cheating and creepy management of the league, creating so much drama and baggage, that it becomes a chore to even get through a season.

    He has gone into federal court announcing he has the right to cheat and do what he wants because Article 46, since 1969, allows him to. To actually admit this in a federal court is stunning on its own two feet, but for people to ignore the connection between the cheating he did with Deflategate, and now framing Zeke Elliott, is hilarious to me. Yep! Nothing to see here, folks!

    Thurs night failures and a bloated, greedy set of owners not caring about the product due to the windfall known as the 2011 CBA, are certainly also part of the problem.

  15. delhommed says:
    November 3, 2017 at 8:14 am
    I work around a lot of officers… and everyone has told me they tuned out because of kneeling

    41 14 Rate This

    —————-

    Yes, and Goodell is not a cheater, liar and he has not been bagged in federal courts lying before, too.

    Cool story, though.

  16. factschecker says:
    November 3, 2017 at 8:29 am

    The only thing the media covers in America is controversy. To me that is the biggest part of the decline of television. Television is escapism. Sports are escapism.People no longer talk about the best players or the best performances. That’s the topics that have carried sports talk for generations. All sports talk is today is gossip. It doesn’t matter if it’s TV, radio or print. Gossip and controversy hog the conversation. The sports media are killing themselves off in the quest for “clicks.”

    Never seen a more accurate post than this. Great stuff factschecker

  17. mikeoxwells says:
    November 3, 2017 at 9:18 am
    Why are there SO MANY people offended by the kneeling that they “aren’t paying attention to the NFL anymore”, on THIS website?

    Because someone told them what to think. Its all about the “flag” man, don’t you get it (smirk).

  18. jeffreyshulenburg says:

    See, I dont know where all these supposed people are. Nobody I know has stopped watching because of the kneeling.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    I can only imagine where you live and where you work has something to do with your observation.

    I’m not saying you’re lying. I am saying that in certain parts of the country and certain work environments – the acceptance of the anthem protests is higher.

    I travel in my job – averaging 200 miles per day – in two states. My customers range from a one man shop to very large dealerships. The vast majority of my customers and their employees are upset about this issue.

  19. If it wasn’t for those little numbers next to their names, I would stop caring about football altogether. Fantasy is the only reason I’m here anymore.

    Signed,

    30+ year fan of the game

  20. It went from being about the football game and the teams to individual football players and TMZ like coverage.

  21. I think it’s the recent eclipse or maybe the recent hurricanes. Last year you confidently said it was the election. As long as it’s just too difficult to look at the truth we may as well blame it on anything but what real NFL fans have said it is. Go ahead keep sticking you fingers in your ears while chanting, “La la la la…” maybe it will all go away when you open your eyes.

  22. “mikeoxwells says:
    November 3, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Why are there SO MANY people offended by the kneeling that they “aren’t paying attention to the NFL anymore”, on THIS website?”
    ============================================

    Because they are flat out liars. That’s why.

  23. mikeoxwells says:
    November 3, 2017 at 9:18 am
    Why are there SO MANY people offended by the kneeling that they “aren’t paying attention to the NFL anymore”, on THIS website?

    —-

    It is largely this website. I don’t see this kind of vitriol about a legal protest on other ones. But to your point, if you don’t like it, and you have “sworn off the game” to the point where you REALLY think you are what’s affecting the ratings for what has become a largely boring, watered down product (that can’t be the real reason, of course), then stop coming here and posting about it. A boycott is a boycott.

  24. The disrespecting of the flag and anthem is the main issue, no matter how they try to spin it. One thing these bigwigs fail to acknowledge is the huge impact of fantasy football and DFS. These players tend to love the games that take place on days other than Sunday because they have a chance to watch their players play. Also, many fantasy players are fully invested into their teams at this point, both monetarily and intellectually. It is hard to stop paying attention to the NFL when there are hundreds or thousands of dollars at stake. The truth is that fantasy football is carrying the NFL. I have had people in my leagues tell me they won’t be playing next year. Some have even tried to get their money back and get out of the league this year. The impact of this kneeling mess is only beginning to be felt. It will be even worse next year.

  25. The escalation of star player salaries has hurt the overall product. Teams plug holes with young cheap players in order to avoid salary cap hell. That being said, i’d still rather watch NFL than regular TV shows any day.

  26. factschecker says:
    November 3, 2017 at 8:29 am
    The only thing the media covers in America is controversy. To me that is the biggest part of the decline of television. Television is escapism. Sports are escapism.People no longer talk about the best players or the best performances. That’s the topics that have carried sports talk for generations. All sports talk is today is gossip. It doesn’t matter if it’s TV, radio or print. Gossip and controversy hog the conversation. The sports media are killing themselves off in the quest for “clicks.”
    ________________________________________________________
    Nailed it!!

  27. I can honestly tell you that I don’t watch as much football because of politics being injected into it. I watch pretty much my team only, and only probably because they are winning. If they were losers, I might have tuned them out by now too. Every now and then, I will flip on a division rival just to see what is going on, or flip on TNF, SNF, or MNF, but I don’t watch anywhere near like I used to. You don’t have to believe me. You can say if I don’t watch then why am I commenting still on sports sites. You can say no one cares, just go away. You SJWs can say whatever you like. I am not posting this as a threat, nor posting this because I think the NFL will see my post and all of a sudden change. I am posting this to show that while saturation may be somewhat of a problem for some….. I am at least one of the people that stopped watching because of the politics, and it has nothing to do with saturation. There was a time not too long ago I wanted more football on TV. The saturation doesn’t bother me. The SJWs trying to force their agenda on me in every walk of life is what bothers me and it makes me only want to push back that much harder.

    Also, I have cut out many things regarding sports because of the politics. I used to post daily on a sports message board and don’t anymore. I have cut down on where I get my info. Ironically, CBSsports is where I get most of my news. Even though they do inject politics every now and then into their articles, they do it much less than PFT and ESPN. I don’t go to ESPN at all anymore other than for my fantasy teams. I skim PFT and rarely comment on articles or even click on articles. I don’t even go to my local sports site much because they are an extension of PFT. The more and more politics gets injected in sports/sports sites, the more and more I am turned away. I believe it will all eventually go away though so that is why I am not completely distanced from sports/sports sites. I am just waiting it out right now.

  28. I DVR games, I don’t watch them real time.
    There are fewer games I want to watch than in the past.
    Maybe there are fewer likable stars?
    I hate watching the Jags with Blake Bortles even if the defense carries the team. If I liked in Jacksonville I’d put up with it, but since I don’t I have no interest.
    Who wants to watch the Jets-Bills other than fans of those 2 teams?
    Its not like there are some fun players to watch (maybe LeSean McCoy but I’m not turning on the TV to watch for 3.5 hours to see him make a few nice plays, I’ll watch a replay the next day).

    Kneeling has nothing to do with it, most games aren’t much fun to watch.

    I was interested in Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers. At least Wentz is still playing and maybe I’ll get to see him play one more game this season.

  29. Here is why the ratings are dropping:

    Scheduling: Games on Sunday at noon, Sunday at 3:00, Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, games in London before most people are out of bed on a Sunday. To watch a game in every time slot, you’d be spending on average of 15 hours (18 if you watch the London games) watching football. My wife loves football but I cant justify eating up an entire Sunday from the crack of dawn until bedtime watching football.

    Non-Football Issues: Protest, suspensions, Article 46, arbitrators, investigations, injunctions, temporary restraining orders, judges, bounty-gate, deflate-gate, domestic violence, substance abuse, arrests, CTE, team relocations.

    In Game Issues: Bad teams, bad QB’s, bad coaches, bad refs, anyone know what a catch is? I grew up understanding that you only had to have the ball and two feet down….now you have to have the ball, maintain control, get both feet down, and if you go to the grown, the ball cant come loose…or you have to make some sort of nebulous “football move” (AND YES DEZ CAUGHT IT).

    People want to watch football, we dont want politics, social justice lectures, protesting of the president, we dont want gimmicky color rush uniforms that look horrible, we want our stars on the field, not suspended for letting air out of a few footballs (allegedly), or for a crime they were never even charged with (Elliott). We want rules that pass the eye test, we all know what a catch is when we see, we dont need a law degree to make sense of the rule.

    Most of all, we want our NFL to be about the NFL like it used to be. We have to sift through so much crap that its hard to even enjoy the game on Sunday, or Sunday, or Monday night, or Thursday…..so why bother watching a game if your team isnt playing?

  30. Thinking of the NFL used to conjure up images of fun and excitement. Hard working, likable players, thrilling games, living and dying with every play. Remember “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat”? That is what makes sports great.

    Now when I think of the NFL, I think of a aged, bloated behemoth that has completely lost its way. Gone is the thrilling excitement of the on-field product; now its replaced by cheaper thrills like fantasy football and DFS. Media coverage focuses on legal drama, horribly dull social justice commentary and in general everything *except* the on field product.

    As others have said, sports are an escape. The NFL has completely lost sight of this fact, instead choosing to believe that their little game is integral to modern life rather then being the mindless entertainment that it is.

    Its simple Goodell: Just make the games FUN again. Don’t officiate games like the fate of the world rests on the call. Call egregious penalties that effect the outcome of the play. Let the others go. Endless stoppages are not entertaining, and the point of your sport is to entertain.

  31. Why are there SO MANY people offended by the kneeling that they “aren’t paying attention to the NFL anymore”, on THIS website?

    I know for me that I haven’t watch a game all year after watching the NFL for over twenty years. But what does me not watching the games have to do with going to a website and reading about the NFL and committing on a brand that I want to succeed if they could pull their heads out of the sand and get it together. For all those people on here that say its not about the flag you are wrong. Kapernick choose the flag and was quoted after the first game he did it as saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game.It has always been about the flag.

  32. Any moron that burns his tickets and merch or stops watching games because some player kneel are actually proving the point of the people kneeling. I honestly think its the ignorance of the fan base that is causing this game to collapse on itself.

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