Early-season ratings drop a “huge concern” for NFLPA

Getty Images

The NFL has opted to keep a stiff upper lip and a stoic demeanor regarding the alarming early-season decline in TV ratings, specifically for prime-time games. The NFL Players Association is opting not to pretend that all is well.

“This is a huge issue for us obviously,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live. “We spend a lot of time looking at trends. I was thrilled to see the game being streamed on Twitter. We’re interested about where media is going. Viewership is an important issue, stadium attendance is a very important issue to us. So as we look forward knowing that there are a couple of television contracts that are going to come up. I think it is smart for us to look at the impact of whether fans are watching on TV or not.”

A decline in TV viewership won’t be a factor until after the current TV contracts expire, assuming there isn’t a renegotiation before the existing deals expire after the 2022 season.

“I’m sure there after people at the networks who are trying to figure out whether or not there’s going to be labor peace in 2021 and how that affects the TV contracts that they’re entering into,” Smith said.

That definitely will be a factor, especially if the NFL tries to extend the TV deals before the current labor deal expires. Beyond labor peace, however, the balance between revenue from traditional broadcast networks, cable outlets, and Internet companies will be a challenge for the NFL to balance as it tries to maximize revenue, to maintain a large audience for prime-time games, and to avoid potential scrutiny of the federal government, which could be inclined to strip the league of its broadcast antitrust exemption if a sufficient number of games aren’t easily available to the millions of Americans who still rely on rabbit ears to capture the TV signals floating in the ether.

26 responses to “Early-season ratings drop a “huge concern” for NFLPA

  1. This should serve as a wake up call for the jealous owners club. When you have incompotent leadership, it eventually catches up to you.

    If Goodell spent as much time worrying about the NFL’s product, as he spends trying to screw over the players, this wouldn’t be happening.

  2. Mike must think this is just a coincidence that the ratings are down the same year Kap has become the face of the NFL with his protest (cover of Time magazine) those NFL boycotts on FB n other social media outlets are working! Watch how fast things change when the advertisers start telling Goodell he better make some changes!

  3. It’s simple. FrameGate proved – with scientific evidence no less – that Goodell was attempting to fix games by benching the best player on the best team when the evidence said Brady was innocent in an effort to give some of the other owners a chance to get to the Super Bowl.

    The Patriots average a Super Bowl appearance every other year and the other AFC owners don’t like that

    Now that fans know the NFL is corrupt and trying to alter the outcome of the season they’re less interested

    Goodell will go down in history as the guy who turned the NFL into the World Wrestling Federation – though the Patriots and their backup QBs aren’t exactly cooperating with Goodell’s 0-4 dreams

  4. The NFLPA should be quietly celebrating that the owners’ continued sponsorship of Roger Goodell might actually become problematic for the entire league. There is a solution if/when the owners are finally forced to do something about it.

  5. What the NFLPA needs to do is what everyone else does when things aren’t going their way: scream its because of bigotry. Then they can move on and continue to ignore the real problem.

    On the rare occasion I watch the Sunday morning blowhards on every channel, I’m not watching to see who is planning to kneel for the national anthem and hear 15 minutes of chatter about the social implications and the subtle vote for Hillary pitches, I want information to help me with my fantasy team and my gambling. I’m not saying Kaepernick and the TV stations don’t have the right to do what they are doing. Of course they do. I have the same right to tune them all out.

  6. I still watch the games, but I used to watch every pre game and post game show I could. Not any more. They are just filled with TMZ garbage. Get back to talking about football.

  7. Of course the NFLPA has concern. Lack of interest has an effect on contract talks and potential earnings which directly affects who they represent and their power. But they need to get control of the players in the same way everyone else blasts the owners. The owners do have things they need to do but when players personal politics enter entertainment (which is bottom line what they are) and affect the outcome (especially with betting involved) then it is hard to believe players are giving 100% or not throwing games to make a point. The NFLPA has to realize that. Kapernick is ineffective except as a sit-in lightning rod. You can’t tell me Kelly doesn’t have that thought in mind even if he is saying he is supporting him 100% or he would be in a game. His best power is not sitting but in proving the life was worth it to begin with by winning.

  8. People are streaming more than ever.

    Most people don’t have the time to sit at home in front of a TV if there’s an option to stream they stream it.

    TV is going to be taking losses in every market. Sports. News. Every market.

    Just watch your kids and what they do to get a glimpse of the future. I have 3 kids and they never have the TV on. It’s all about youtube, netflix, and other streaming/entertainment options.

    Add that to the mix where there is horrible officiating, bad mismanagement and witch hunting going on within the league, of course that’s gonna add to a decline too.

    The people who stopped watching because of players protesting police accountability is a probably very small percentage. Don’t kid yourselves. You aren’t that many but combined with other reasons to stop, it adds up.

  9. It’s a concern, huh? Well, tell your idiot union members that spitting in the face of Veterans and First Responders as well as all patriotic Americans of all colors, is a sure way to turn the public away from you.

  10. I am turning off any game where the anthem is disrespected, and I’ve been a loyal fan of the NFL for 48 years.

  11. When you combine excessive penalties, endless commercials, jr high drama, and oversaturation with outright insulting your country, this is what you get. People are going to have a hard time supporting a claim of oppression by millionaire black athletes, in a country where the wealthiest and most powerful woman isn’t Clinton but Oprah, where the last 2 AGs are black, 2 recent Secretaries of State were black on top of having a 2 term black president. This blowback should surprise no one.

  12. Funny thing is, Robert Kraft is the chairman of the committee that negotiates the TV deals. Maybe he should screw the league. I’m sure he wouldn’t care to do it since the league screwed him.

  13. I applaud the NFL teams that do community work especially the Minnesota Vikings. Way to go guys you are making a difference. You are using your profession to impact others.

  14. A lot of these ratings lows are coming from low-quality MNF match-ups. If Disney wants to get better stuff instead of scraps from the NFL, they need to put MNF back on ABC.

    Ratings life cycle up and down. I highly doubt the national anthem stuff is that big of a factor (except to those out there who will “thumbs down” this comment.)

  15. Not sure why the players are so worried. Baseball ratings have been declining precipitously for anybody who is under the age of 50. Yet MLB TV contracts are like hitting the lottery every time they come up for renewal. This happens because the only way advertisers can reach their target male demographic audience is through live sports. The NFL is the best way to accomplish this goal and as a result the networks will keep writing the checks and the NFL money machine will go rolling on. The players (and the arrogant owners) should be thanking their lucky stars that they have hit on this windfall.

  16. Well gee, look what everyone has done to the product.

    Goodell just to start. He has been caught in so many lies on sso many topics it’s amazing. And he keeps doing it.

    Officiating has become suspect, and the solution is to give greater control to the league to determine the outcome.

    Bad behavior by players. This is not all of them, not even most of them. But it is enough of them to get noticed.

    Doping and testing for such. Not sure how rampant the problem is or is not, but it’s obvious the NFL has botched the handling.

    The whole absolute power thing by Goodell. It was supposed to be to enable him to ‘clean up the league’ but really he just uses it as a tool for furthering his agendas against the union by squeezing players.

    Greed. The owners, the players, everyone puts in for this one. And not matter who is doing it at any given moment it never plays well.

    The entitlement. See Greed.

    I could go on but really what’s happening is that the public that once perceived it to be a high level of competition between dedicated hard working atheletes have lost that image. Some are not even sure it’s a competition any more. So they look for something else to entertain them.

  17. the players are unlikable. I don’t want to see a bunch of spoiled, overpaid and coddled athletes taking a knee during the national anthem.

    as long as the NFL chooses to allow it, ill choose to simply not watch or support the brand

  18. Even last year before the anthem situation, I found myself looking forward to watching a game, then falling asleep in the 2nd quarter. Bad football, bad officiating, about equal to the xfl overall. Remember at the start of xfl games when they had one player from each team try to pounce on a football first to see which team got the ball, at least that was kind of entertaining. Pretty much all nfl teams used to be adequate and then worked to be excellent. Presently, most nfl teams struggle to be adequate and mostly fail. Free agency has hurt the league. It used to be fun watching a team grow and develop into possibly a Super Bowl contender. Now you don’t even know who you’re rooting for half the time.
    In last years Super Bowl everyone knew Peyton and Cam. Other than those two, no other players really stood out to the casual fan. I can still name many players from the 85 bears and some of the other great teams from that era. The salary cap has hurt too. Kind of like socialism, all you have left are well paid stars and low paid(by nfl standards) rookies and young guys. 7 or 8 undrafted rookie free agents made the Seahawks roster. Why, because Wilson got the huge contract. The middle class players are squeezed out who were the backbone of teams. The result is very low quality football. Then comes the Kap thing. The nfl is like a girlfriend who gained weight and generally became sort of annoying. You tolerated her and overlooked some of the faults while still enjoying her company although not as much as in the past. Then for some absurd unwarranted reason, she gets overconfident and bitchy and starts insulting your values and much of what you hold dear. That’s when you say see you later. That pretty much sums up it up for me.

  19. Mike, why can’t you (or anyone else in the media) admit that the anthem protests are responsible for the ratings decline? I know you support the protests, but there is no other rationale explanation for the decline. The protests are why I no longer watch NFL games.

  20. So you are confused? Well here are a few hints in order….

    1. Stop using the refs to fix games! It’s painfully obvious, and it has turn the NFL from a Sport to a Sports Entertainment a.k.a. WWE. It’s fake and mostly predecided in a board room from the look of it. Also simplify the rules. The rule book has been purposely complicated to the point that it allows your referees to pick and choose what to implement so it favors your select team.

    2. Stop supporting Anti-American causes when your audience is American! Dill Weeds!

    3. Get some consistency in your lousy judicial system. You tap the hands of players on teams that are preferred, and drop a hammer on teams that aren’t. Still wondering how a Steeler’s RB gets four games and a Browns receiver gets over a year for second hand exposure, when both were 2nd violations of the same policy!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.