Sunday night ratings send strong message to owners who want a lockout

In past years, regular-season NFL football has at times generated better television ratings than postseason baseball.  And preseason football routinely outdraws regular-season baseball.

This year, however, a pennant-clinching game between the Yankees and the Angels beat the Sunday night game featuring the Cardinals and the Giants, the last two NFC representatives to the Super Bowl.
Per Michael Hiestand of USA Today, the baseball game rang up an 11.4 overnight rating, which means that it was viewed in 11.4 percent of television households in the top 56 urban markets.  Cardinals-Giants registered a 10.4 rating.
So at a time when some owners are pushing for a lockout — and when the union has at times adopted a “bring it on” posture — we hope that both sides will realize that the American public has options, and that the sports world would continue spinning in the event the NFL decides to shut its doors for a year or so in the hopes of cramming a bad deal down the players’ throats.
That said, high-stakes postseason baseball should outdraw a regular-season NFL game.  Indeed, there will be no Sunday night game in Week Eight because the NFL traditionally avoids going up against the World Series.  And the fact that the numbers were close is further proof that football is the preferred spectator sport.
Still, with college football and postseason baseball and hockey and basketball, folks would miss the NFL — but they also would find plenty of other things to watch and/or do if pro football went away for a while.
And some of them might not come back when the NFL finally does.

45 responses to “Sunday night ratings send strong message to owners who want a lockout

  1. I’m a Bucs fan, I haven’t technically seen real football in nearly a year. A lock-out? Big deal, maybe that’s the only way some fans of the more successful teams will ever feel my pain.

  2. You don’t mention that the POST season baseball game featured both the NY and the LA markets, while the regular season football game featured the NY and……..Arizona.

  3. I think I’m speaking for every NFL fan when I say that if the NFL went away, I would just drink more and pass out sooner. I would NOT watch baseball. My standards of sports entertainment rest with football, and football alone.
    I honestly didn’t even know the baseball playoffs had started. That’s the beauty of the NFL Network–no baseball!

  4. As a 28 year old who remembers the early-nineties baseball strike vividly I can say that the NFL will permanently lose fans if there is a work stoppage of any kind. Growing up I was avid about two teams, the Steelers and the Pirates. It’s hard to say whether I liked one team better than the other but I never missed a game and my day/week was ruled by the outcome of each game. After the strike I had only one team. It has nothing to do with the Pirates being lousy for the past 17 years, hell I still follow them. Just without the passion. I can honestly say there is something that corrupts the game allowing a business disagreement to stop play that just takes the magic away from it.
    God Bless America and Go Steelers.
    and let greed not interfere with all our livelihoods.

  5. Thank you Florio. Please keep writing about the utter stupidity it would be for the union and owners not to come to an agreement. Not only do people have other choices (and they will exercise them) but for both these sides to be acting like the greedy bastards they are when there is plenty of money to go around for them is a dangerous business right now. Most of their fans are hurting financially in this economy and it isn’t the best time to be arguing over their billions of dollars.

  6. “folks would miss the NFL — but they also would find plenty of other things to watch and/or do if pro football went away for a while.”
    If my NFL ever goes away for any significant period of time, I predict there will be a huge baby boom about 9 months later. If I can’t watch football, all I want to do otherwise is … well you get the picture.

  7. I’m always amazed that when post-season baseball beats regular season football, there’s an immediate over-reaction in the media about how the gap might be closing between the two sports, or that the NFL is truly not the “King” of the sports-world. I’ll give credit to Florio for pointing out how awful baseball is as a draw in the regular season, but one night of baseball narrowing beating out the NFL is nothing that the owners are going to fear. (I’d also bet that most people were flipping between the two games.)
    Unless the players agree to what the owners want (more games, less money for player salaries) there will be a lockout.

  8. I would rather watch a rerun of the 1997 NFL Draft than a deciding World Series game. In fact, I’d rather watch Mel Kiper’s hair grow than watch a baseball game.

  9. For me, I hate the Yankees and the Angels…so guess what I was watching…that’s right, Giants vs Cardinals. If there is a lockout…then I would so bored with Yankees playoff games

  10. Im a Skins fan and even I would hate no NFL. To top it off not getting a new Madden would be even worse.

  11. Why the people watch doesn’t matter. However, the NFL, like it or not, depends on gambling and fantasy football for their numbers. (Think of how many guys on both teams last night are key fantasy players). Baseball, on the other hand, had its viewers out of sheer interest.
    I wouldn’t be so quick to credit L.A. for the high ratings. The Angels are stepchildren there.
    I do wonder how they rate people like me that watched both at the same time, one online (and not on the NBC website I might add) and one on the regular sweet HDTV.

  12. I quit watching baseball when they chose to strike and the World Series was cancelled. I only came back when the Devil Rays were born.
    I quit watching Hockey for the same reason and never went back since the Lightning wasn’t allowed to celebrate their Stanley Cup.
    There’s no question that if the owners get greedy and lock out the players and we lose an NFL season….I’m done with the NFL and I’ll watch the NBA.

  13. I look forward to an NFL lockout so that I can catch up on my professional jai alai and dodgeball leagues.

  14. The point of the article is if the NFL locks out theres more out there to grab the viewers interest. Don’t get me wrong, people love the NFL today, but people also loved the MLB in 94, NBA in 98 and the NHL on 05 and it took years to gain back their respective audiences. The strike in 94 led to the demise of the Montreal Expos who at the time were one of the best teams in baseball, and the NHL is still struggling to find it’s niche with the viewers 4 years later. Who knows what an NFL lockout could bring!

  15. I’ve already cancelled the NFL ticket from Direct Tv for next season. I’ve watched the NFL and AFL since 1968 and the game has been ruined. It’s unwatchable. The league is no longer about playing football. There are too many rules and regulations. There are too many games decided by a ref on the field or someone sitting up in a booth some where. And it appears to me that the refs can pick and choose when they feel like throwing a flag to control the outcome of a game. After all, it’s all about ratings and money now.

  16. The NFL is a corporate entity, meaning it’s an amalgamation of the Tin Man and the Scarecrow: It has neither a heart nor a brain. Yes, we would desperately miss the NFL. Yes, we would find other things to watch. Yes, in this economy when so many are suffering, a strike would create enormous public resentment toward the owners and the players, tarnishing the league’s carefully crafted image. Yes, it would take years to undo the damage (as it did for baseball–and have the network ratings yet fully recovered from the writers’ strike?).
    Will the league owners come to their senses before it’s too late? Not unless the Wizard can provide them hearts and brains. We’re still waiting for that miracle to occur on Wall Street, aren’t we? Don’t get your hopes up.

  17. I was a huge baseball fan. I sought out and worked a summer job at age 15 at a pawn shop that had a baseball card shop in the early 80’s. After the strike I had about 1 percent of the enthusiasm for the game as I had before. Even in my 40’s I have barely followed the game and could care less. They broke my heart. The NFL would be wise not to do the same to millions like me.

  18. Let them lock it out. I can use my money and time somewhere else. I will probably be able to hire an attorney that previously ran a football site and just sue somebody, for something.

  19. Just shows how much baseball has recovered even with the steroid scandals (which haunt every sport now). Look for baseball to take back America’s sport crown when football goes on strike. Baseball’s strike opened the door for the NFL.

  20. I’m just wondering if more viewers would have tuned in had anyone thought the cardinals had a decent chance of winning.

  21. Interesting … with so many bad teams in the NFL this year … I’m sure a few fans would enjoy the break.

  22. If they locked out I would start watching college ball witch I’ve never really done. Couldn’t go back after that. By the way I’m a Raiders fan it would be a legimitate out.

  23. I haven’t attended or even watched a MLB game since the strike of ’81.
    I have a hard time being sympathetic to millionaires complaining about their paychecks.
    The NFL is no different. If there’s a lockout, or a strike, fuggem. I don’t need to give them my money.

  24. An NFL strike would suck large, but at least I’d have bow hunting to fall back on. As other posters have stated, I’m not sure my enthusiasm would return when the strike was over. I haven’t watched an NHL game since their strike, and I live in Toronto for the love of god.

  25. # SmackMyVickUp says: October 26, 2009 8:34 PM
    Just shows how much baseball has recovered even with the steroid scandals (which haunt every sport now). Look for baseball to take back America’s sport crown when football goes on strike. Baseball’s strike opened the door for the NFL.
    I agree and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit. Im in San Diego, and have been since 01, I have been a Bengals fan for 20+ years, I just started using the Sunday ticket 2 years ago, If there is a strike I have no problems not watching games anymore. Hell I got used to just browsing NFL>com for game results.

  26. Football is losing ratings big time due to incredible amount of rules, the protection of the QB, the complete bullshit calls, and now the loss of parity. It is inherintly unamerican to punish success and subsidize failure the way the NFL does, but it works for the NFL and keeps teams like oakland and detroit at least thinking they have a chance year after year (don’t get your panties in a bunch, you know its been tough the last little bit).
    The game should be simple, less rules make for a better game. Remember being a kid and playing it in the backyard? nothing sucked more than the obnoxious kid who lived up the street bitching about a catch being out of bounds, or a hit being late. The NFL should try to get close to this level of simplicity.
    The QB’s get paid better than just about every lineman, why in the hell should they be placed on a pedistal? the more they get paid, the harder they should be hit (see kickers and punters). let those DE’s and OLB’s tee off on guys like brady and manning, the smart QB’s will fall backwards to avoid the injuries and they will be fine.
    as for the BS calls and the loss of parity, hell i dunno, let the fans vote off the worst officials each year, it would get the fans involved and keep the officials honest, actually, it might lend the officials to being even more blinded then they are now, big markets would still get good calls and small markets would get screwed. parity could be fixed by having a minor league system and a waiver system for claiming players from it. if the NFL endorsed the UFL fully they could double the number of teams and allow NFL teams to draft players from the UFL once a year and give young players that need time to develop a league to do it in other than the CFL. they should run it after the NFL ends, put it head to head against basketball and nascar, it should do just fine and give people something to watch leading up to the draft. (why not include UFL players in the college draft?)
    bottom line: If the NFL goes on strike, they will lose 20-40% of their fan base, largely younger folks and women. both of which are HUGE areas of concern in the league. (young people are used to doing other stuff on sunday afternoons and women are just now starting to get into football bigtime)

  27. If there was a lockout, I would hope some of the networks would pay to air some of the Champions League, Barclay’s Premiership, La Liga, Die Bundesliga, and Serie A matches (yes, I know FSC & ESPN carry Premiership & Champions League matches – Saturday mornings and during the weekday work hours though).
    I know soccer isn’t alot of American’s cup of tea, but I’d be more than happy to watch some soccer if my Packers aren’t playing on Sundays for a season or so.

  28. Oh, and I’m really on the sides of owners.
    Yes, they’re all insanely rich…but as an example, the Packers had a $20something million profit (before investment losses)…the Packers are one of the top 10 franchises in the league (in value) and they only pulled in a $20 profit. What about the teams in cities that are getting blacked out though?
    Pretty pathetic that a billion dollar franchise like the Packers can only pull a $20M profit when there are some players making that much in a year’s salary.
    Players get 59% of revenues…Owners get the other 41% but they have to pay down debt on the stadium, pay coaches, assistants, front office personnel, marketing, vendors, etc etc…the owners have to fork over all these expenses just to run the franchises on 41% of what’s left after the players get their share…pathetic in my opinion.

  29. And lastly, the NFL should stop their plans on expanding to Europe and stop importing games there to try to re-enforce this notion it will work.
    There are enough bad teams here in the US that we don’t need the talent pool of players depleted even more…and enough of the LA talk…there are enough teams that are threatening/may move that this league would become like the NBA with a franchise moving every 2-4 years.
    Contraction, not expansion Roger.

  30. brasho says:
    October 26, 2009 7:54 PM
    I’m a Bucs fan, I haven’t technically seen real football in nearly a year. A lock-out? Big deal, maybe that’s the only way some fans of the more successful teams will ever feel my pain.
    Thats funny.
    Its always sad to me that the rich will lose money figuring out how to divide the money up.

  31. @MkePackFan …
    I hope the Commissioner’s office monitors posts on this site. And I hope you just scared the living daylights out of them.

  32. Since Congress has allowed the NFL the operate as a virtual monopoly with it’s own special rules, they should also make it illegal for players to strike or for teams to perform lock outs. When disputes arise between labor/management, forced mediation should be required. If we as fans are literally forced into financing stadiums, are subject to blackouts and loss of teams due to the monopolistic practices of the NFL, then we should be given the right to watch our football without punishment of being deprived over government protected actions by the members of the NFL which we have no power over.

  33. after the last baseball stoppage, i stopped following or caring for the game for almost 3 full years. Thats how pissed off I was at the owners and players.
    If football should have a lockout, i don’t know what I’d do. There would be, without a doubt, a void. I’d be out with the guys PLAYING more football on Sundays, instead of sitting on my arse all day staring at my tv screen & laptop.

  34. @MkePackFan …
    Good grief, I thought you were finished when I said I hoped you’d scared the living daylights out of the Commissioner’s office. Who knew you were going to keep posting and posting. Sorry, no pity here for billionaires like Jerry Jones or Paul Allen just because of the Packers’ unique ownership model. Without players there’d be no NFL to profit anyone. I agree they make quite enough now, but I wish they’d negotiate a deal that says they won’t play in the UK or Europe.
    But nevermind that …
    I was talking about your initial reference to watching soccer. “Futbol” has already captivated all the U.S. moms who don’t want their kids getting clobbered playing football. The League should be very worried about more American viewers turning to soccer as an alternative if the NFL goes dark for a season.

  35. What is the IQ threshold to believe the premise of this article, 15?
    This sends no message to anyone, unless they spend most of their time drooling foam onto their lap.
    While baseball’s popularity loses 9/10 times to the NFL, playoff series clinching games will draw the big ratings. That has always been the case and always will be. Add to that the fact that the NFL deliberately does its best not to compete with the October playoffs, and this is a clear non issue.
    The only message here is that if any of the other owners (besides Florio’s hero Al “Love me some Off-The-Marcus Russel” Davis) are actually paying any attention to what Florio is saying, then they must be skipping their meds.

  36. Wow… I wasn’t watching either of the games. I was in bed letting my wife watch Housewives and Brothers while giving her a rub-down so I could laid. Yes, I’ll whore myself out and watch a couple chick shows for some. A man gots to do what a man gots to do…

  37. 1994 with the baseball strike i boycotted the game until June 2007 . Watched no batters at the plate or plays made, pitches thrown, nothing for 13 years about. Phillie’s fan. Remember Jim Thome was a Phillie in that time. Other than that? Now I’m big into it. So if football wants a strike, they will probably lose a lot of interest when it resumes. And don’t compare baseball to football. Or vice versa. They are both great sports.

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