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Procus

Sliding NFL ratings could throw networks for a loss

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But, but - it was the elections last year that hurt the ratings, not Kaepernick.  Yah, that's the ticket . . .

Ratings in the toilet.  I wonder why?

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Sliding NFL ratings could throw networks for a loss

In a fractured media environment where award-winning scripted dramas compete for the public's attention along with goofy cat videos, one of the few things that multibillion dollar media and entertainment conglomerates could count on to attract millions of viewers -- and generate the ad revenue that keeps them in business -- was the National Football League.

These days, however, the most popular U.S. professional sport isn't such a sure bet. According to Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser, viewership for the NFL was down 14 percent on a year-over-year basis during the first week of the 2017-18 season. That's the lowest level of same-week viewing since 2009. 

As a result, Walt Disney (DIS), parent of ESPN; CBS (CBS), parent of CBS MoneyWatch; Fox (FOXA), parent 21st Century Fox and Comcast (CMCSA), whose properties include NBC, are in a bind. They've counted on the NFL to buttress their business as audiences for cable and broadcast networks have dwindled in recent years. It has been an expensive strategy.

Fox, CBS and Comcast signed a $27 billion deal with the NFL for the right to broadcast games through 2022. ESPN reportedly pays $1.9 billion per year for the rights to "Monday Night Football," a 73 percent increase over the previous contract. NBC and CBS signed a $900 million deal in 2016 for the rights to broadcast Thursday night games. 

"The bigger question is why and how have sports defied gravity for so long," Pivotal's Weiser said, adding that broadcasting the NFL had "high fixed costs." He noted: "At the end of the day, people are using their TV sets less than they used to."

Theories abound attempting to explain the ratings drop. Among them: the public's attention being diverted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Before that, the nastiest presidential campaign in recent memory fixated viewers away from the gridiron. 

Others have pointed to the controversy around former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a fan turn-off. Injuries to stars such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants haven't helped, either, nor do the retirements of fan favorites such as Peyton Manning.

Some sports fans have argued that the quality of the league's product has slipped. Some evidence justifies these concerns. According to 538.com, only three games in the season's Week One were decided by 7 or fewer points, the lowest number for an opening week since 1973. Teams combined for 40.4 points per game, the sixth-lowest mark since 2012. Many of the games weren't even close, with the average margin of victory at 3-to-1.

To be sure, the viewership picture isn't entirely bleak. The opening contest on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" featured two of the league's most popular teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. It posted a 5 percent viewership gain over the previous year.

CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves, for one, isn't worried about the drop-off in NFL TV audiences, which he attributed to the hurricanes. He told CNBC recently, "I think the NFL is still the best property on television."

Moonves' optimism is shared by Amazon (AMZN), which bought the rights to stream 10 NFL games this season. Once the league's broadcast deal expires, Weiser expects the e-commerce giant to bid along with other tech stalwarts such as Apple (AAPL) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOG). That might make an expensive business even more pricey for the media companies.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

 

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The annual rules changes that handcuff defenses are guaranteed to be playing a part in the downslide. Many football purists are losing interest

Seriously....if I wanted to watch one sided football games, I'd watch college ball. They're pandering to casual, fairweather fans who want high scoring games.

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5 minutes ago, Gmen4ever said:

The annual rules changes that handcuff defenses are guaranteed to be playing a part in the downslide. Many football purists are losing interest

Seriously....if I wanted to watch one sided football games, I'd watch college ball. They're pandering to casual, fairweather fans who want high scoring games.

The bigger factor is the Kaepernick protests.  While the liberals no doubt will harp on free speech, they forget that not everybody shares their views, and many patriotic Americans will choose to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

 

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The biggest factor is cord cutting and people streaming games illegally.  It does not help that it costs you 300 dollars to watch your team if you are out of market.  I have been quiet content to chill in my office, listen to Merrill and Mike and glance at the red zone channel the last few years.

if the NFL wants to get its viewership back up, they need to look at changing season ticket to mirror MLBTV.

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31 minutes ago, Procus said:

The bigger factor is the Kaepernick protests.  While the liberals no doubt will harp on free speech, they forget that not everybody shares their views, and many patriotic Americans will choose to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

 

Thats probably not as big a factor as you think. Most football fans couldn't care less about that ish

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33 minutes ago, Procus said:

The bigger factor is the Kaepernick protests.  While the liberals no doubt will harp on free speech, they forget that not everybody shares their views, and many patriotic Americans will choose to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

 

The whole Kaepernick is not lowering ratings as much as you think...

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11 minutes ago, downundermike said:

The biggest factor is cord cutting and people streaming games illegally.  It does not help that it costs you 300 dollars to watch your team if you are out of market.  I have been quiet content to chill in my office, listen to Merrill and Mike and glance at the red zone channel the last few years.

if the NFL wants to get its viewership back up, they need to look at changing season ticket to mirror MLBTV.

Thats an excellent point

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Another factor in all this, oversaturation. MNF, TFN, Early Sunday Morning games from London, Sunday at 1 PM, Sunday at 4PM and then SNF, followed by MNF, TFN and so on.

I don't discount any of the other reasons given, they all factor in, but when you take a product, water down the quality and then feed that diminished product to your audience for upwards of 18 hours on Sunday, then Monday night and Thursday night, the audience is going to eventually pull away and begin to greatly filter out what they allow in.

On top of all that, add the other factors that have been mentioned and then some that haven't been mentioned.

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48 minutes ago, downundermike said:

The biggest factor is cord cutting and people streaming games illegally.  It does not help that it costs you 300 dollars to watch your team if you are out of market.  I have been quiet content to chill in my office, listen to Merrill and Mike and glance at the red zone channel the last few years.

if the NFL wants to get its viewership back up, they need to look at changing season ticket to mirror MLBTV.

Two different animals.  If you live in Philly and are an Eagles fan, you'll be mighty pissed if you now have to started paying to watch games on TV.

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11 minutes ago, Procus said:

Two different animals.  If you live in Philly and are an Eagles fan, you'll be mighty pissed if you now have to started paying to watch games on TV.

Not saying local markets pay, but for out of market, MLB tv is a far superior service.  It's only 100 bucks, can watch on all devices and phones, and u can even sync up local radio broadcast to TV feed.  100x superior service to season ticket.  And for a 1/3 of the cost, you get 162 games per team instead of 16.

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1 hour ago, downundermike said:

Not saying local markets pay, but for out of market, MLB tv is a far superior service.  It's only 100 bucks, can watch on all devices and phones, and u can even sync up local radio broadcast to TV feed.  100x superior service to season ticket.  And for a 1/3 of the cost, you get 162 games per team instead of 16.

I agree with this 100%

The greatest thing the NFL could possibly do would be to offer an option to just pay for one particular team for an entire season for those of us living outside of the team market. Instead, they keep re-upping with DirecTv, and either forcing people to buy **** dish service, or paying close to $300 for online access, which in my own past experience has been of terrible quality. Sure, there are games other than the Giants that I'd like to watch, but if I had to choose, give me my team, and I'd gladly fork over $100 for just their games for the season

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47 minutes ago, Gmen4ever said:

Sure, there are games other than the Giants that I'd like to watch, but if I had to choose, give me my team, and I'd gladly fork over $100 for just their games for the season

Bundle any specific team viewing with NFL Game pass; charge 150-160 and I'd be in too.

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5 hours ago, Procus said:

The bigger factor is the Kaepernick protests.  While the liberals no doubt will harp on free speech, they forget that not everybody shares their views, and many patriotic Americans will choose to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

 

LOL Football fans don't give a flying F to care enough about boycotting football cause of some crappy QB.

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3 hours ago, Swimm said:

LOL Football fans don't give a flying F to care enough about boycotting football cause of some crappy QB.

Lol.  Like you speak for all football fans.

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I have friends who are boycotting the NFL because they are convinced that Kaep is being blackballed from the league.  And then there's Procus' conviction that the national anthem protests are provoking boycotts as well (I will point that Procus posts here and so it's not unreasonable to think that he is not participating in the boycott himself). That said, I think the declining ratings are caused by multiple factors. I suspect the largest reason is the NFL's slow transition to affordable cell/tablet based viewing. But that's a suspicion. I have no stats. 

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1 hour ago, Erie said:

I have friends who are boycotting the NFL because they are convinced that Kaep is being blackballed from the league.  And then there's Procus' conviction that the national anthem protests are provoking boycotts as well (I will point that Procus posts here and so it's not unreasonable to think that he is not participating in the boycott himself). That said, I think the declining ratings are caused by multiple factors. I suspect the largest reason is the NFL's slow transition to affordable cell/tablet based viewing. But that's a suspicion. I have no stats. 

It's most likely a combination. 

While some are actively boycotting, I think the majority of those who claim to be boycotting, still tune in to watch football.

Between cord cutting, sloppy early season play, among other issues, politics being inserted into the game hasn't helped it in the slightest. It's become less and less worth the effort.

People are still watching, but they just not going out of their way to do so as much as they once did.

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10 hours ago, Gmen4ever said:

The annual rules changes that handcuff defenses are guaranteed to be playing a part in the downslide. Many football purists are losing interest

Seriously....if I wanted to watch one sided football games, I'd watch college ball. They're pandering to casual, fairweather fans who want high scoring games.

I was watching Oklahoma State vs Penn with a mate and at half time it was the question of if Oklahoma were going to be able to break 70 points considering they had 49 at HT. No one wants to watch a game of FG's like Cards vs Seahawks last year, but when it's constant blow outs and nonexistent defense it's just as bad. 

9 hours ago, VaBeach_Eagle said:

Another factor in all this, oversaturation. MNF, TFN, Early Sunday Morning games from London, Sunday at 1 PM, Sunday at 4PM and then SNF, followed by MNF, TFN and so on.

I don't discount any of the other reasons given, they all factor in, but when you take a product, water down the quality and then feed that diminished product to your audience for upwards of 18 hours on Sunday, then Monday night and Thursday night, the audience is going to eventually pull away and begin to greatly filter out what they allow in.

On top of all that, add the other factors that have been mentioned and then some that haven't been mentioned.

The Thursday night games are trash. They've generally been really poor quality games and I can't remember the last time I watched one live. 

 

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Last year, Collin Cowherd attributed the slide solely to the presidential primaries competing with Sunday Night Football. I wonder what he's saying this year. 

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9 hours ago, downundermike said:

Not saying local markets pay, but for out of market, MLB tv is a far superior service.  It's only 100 bucks, can watch on all devices and phones, and u can even sync up local radio broadcast to TV feed.  100x superior service to season ticket.  And for a 1/3 of the cost, you get 162 games per team instead of 16.

MLB.tv is an incredible product and it's already been around for 10+ years. The stream is flawless and the delay from real time is minimal. It's Netflix quality whether you're watching it on your TV, phone or tablet. 

This year the NFL decided to make games in Canada exclusively streaming through a company called DAZN. No more Sunday Ticket is available on cable. You have to go through DAZN to have the opportunity to watch all of the games or else you only get whatever few games are on Fox/CBS on cable. The problem with that is that DAZN is HORRIBLE. Absolute garbage quality, lagging issues, audio issues, HD issues.... It's an absolute disaster. I can't believe the NFL is tolerating having their name attached to it. What a gong show. If it was MLB.tv quality then it would be perfect, but it's far far far from it. I'll just watch games on my android box until they clean up their act.

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I have no idea how ratings work,but I have to wonder if they take into account the number of people who use a streaming service like Sling, Vue, DirecTV Now, and Hulu Live. I've been using Vue to watch the Eagles the past two seasons, and I know a lot of people are starting to move away from traditional cable and on to these streaming tv services. If those viewers aren't being accounted for, then that's a quickly growing chunk of viewers that actually ARE watching, just not through traditional cable/satellite. 

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12 hours ago, downundermike said:

The biggest factor is cord cutting and people streaming games illegally.  It does not help that it costs you 300 dollars to watch your team if you are out of market.  I have been quiet content to chill in my office, listen to Merrill and Mike and glance at the red zone channel the last few years.

if the NFL wants to get its viewership back up, they need to look at changing season ticket to mirror MLBTV.

I wonder if they will do an add on for Directv now. Something like an extra $10 a month gets you sunday ticket.

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11 hours ago, downundermike said:

Not saying local markets pay, but for out of market, MLB tv is a far superior service.  It's only 100 bucks, can watch on all devices and phones, and u can even sync up local radio broadcast to TV feed.  100x superior service to season ticket.  And for a 1/3 of the cost, you get 162 games per team instead of 16.

This is a big deal. 

The NFL only allows mobile devices to stream games if the viewer is using a Verizon device. Deals like that hinder the chance someone who has a busy Sunday will still watch games when they can't be at home in front of their TV. The NFL offers you a GamePass through their NFL app, but it's for replaying games and not watching them live. This is no different than streaming TV alternatives to cable like Sling and PlayStation Vue being forced to put live NFL games as mobile restricted on phones and tablets. 

Those billion dollar contracts they made with FOX, CBS, and ESPN include language that prevents them from diversifying how the viewer receives the product. 

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2 hours ago, vincent_NJG said:

It's most likely a combination. 

While some are actively boycotting, I think the majority of those who claim to be boycotting, still tune in to watch football.

Between cord cutting, sloppy early season play, among other issues, politics being inserted into the game hasn't helped it in the slightest. It's become less and less worth the effort.

People are still watching, but they just not going out of their way to do so as much as they once did.

Agreed. I'd bet dollars to donuts that the majority of those who claim to be boycotting are full of ish

I freely admit that, in the last few years, my enthusiasm for the NFL has waned a bit, but that is largely due to the constant stupid rule changes and the horrendously terrible and uneven calls by the refs in games.

I dont think I could ever completely stop watching, however.

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2 hours ago, Mat said:

I was watching Oklahoma State vs Penn with a mate and at half time it was the question of if Oklahoma were going to be able to break 70 points considering they had 49 at HT. No one wants to watch a game of FG's like Cards vs Seahawks last year, but when it's constant blow outs and nonexistent defense it's just as bad. 

The Thursday night games are trash. They've generally been really poor quality games and I can't remember the last time I watched one live. 

 

Agreed on all points

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