NFL TV ratings are down about 15 percent this season across the board, and television executives are in a bit of a panic to figure out why.
I suspect that Chicago Bears ratings are down significantly this season, and we all can understand why... a losing season matched with a great playoffs and World Series run by the Cubs. Many Chicago fans and all of the Chicago media are focused in on the boys at Wrigley, and rightly so, because we are seeing history... literally a once (for now at least) in a lifetime experience.
Outside of Chicago, however, things are different, and there are many theories as to why.
Here are some links to give you background behind the current situation and the panic in the network and NFL corridors of power:
Yoder: NFL ratings are still way down and getting worse - Awful Announcing - The NFL’s downturn in ratings has been the dominant sports media storyline of the fall of 2016. And unfortunately for the league, it’s not getting any better, especially when it comes to the primetime windows. And while there are a number of factors at play in what’s ailing the NFL right now, the quality of the primetime games isn’t helping.
SI Wire: NFL TV ratings continue decline, national networks down - SI.com - Through seven weeks of the 2016 season, the NFL’s TV ratings continue to suffer.
Yoder: The NFL is football's worst enemy - The Comeback - The NFL has been its own worst enemy, glaringly demonstrated over the past two months with its poor play, officiating and handling of domestic violence.
Battagio: Why some TV executives can't wait for the election to end - LA Times - TV networks scramble to figure out why NFL ratings are down.
Raissman: Here’s why the NFL better be worried about the sinking ratings - NY Daily News - Even the National Football League would not try selling the notion the next installment of Thursday Night Football, Jaguars-Titans, will mark the beginning of a turnaround for the league’s declining TV ratings. The suits would better serve the unwashed masses by promoting the tilt as a temporary cure for insomnia.
I am in no way claiming that these are my original ideas (they are not), but I think that all of the following factors are leading to the ratings crash:
1) Unless you are a fan of one of the teams involved, NFL games have become largely unwatchable due to the insane amount of breaks/interruptions. By this I mean the quantity and lengths of the timeouts. I understand that to pay the billions it takes to get the NFL contract, the networks have to have commercials to monetize the games... but the way it is being done conflicts with my point number 2.
2) Society has changed, and the networks are not (or are not able) to change with it. Here's what's going on during a game: a team runs a play, a tackle is made. Instead of listening to the announcers and watching the teams get ready for the next play, viewers pick up their phones and check their fantasy app to see what else is happening, to text friends, to do a snapchat & check twitter. The next play comes, the viewer looks up, watches it, then head goes back to the phone. When a commercial comes on, all eyes are on the phone or tablet screens. If the game starts to get boring viewers drift away into their phones or conversations or just turn the station.
3) The push towards Fantasy Football has lead (with the exception of teams you are a fan of) people to ignore other games in favor of checking fantasy results/highlights.
4) Officiating is horrible, to the point where I think it's legitimate to wonder if there are teams that get preferential treatment. That doesn't sit well with fans.
5) Presentation is horrible. I can help the NFL with this one. Network brass, you should listen to a game announced by Kevin Harlan. REALLY listen to it, don't just put it on and play with your phone. If your announcers don't sound like that, fire them and hire guys that do. If you have announcers that fawn over any quarterback, fire them. Fawning over quarterbacks disgusts your viewers, and they turn you down or turn you off.
6) ESPN. ESPN is killing the NFL rankings because they have hired a bunch of tools instead of sports journalists. They have become the TMZ or sports. Until such time as the NFL demands ESPN cleans up their act, the brand will continue to suffer.
These are some of my thoughts presented as a discussion starter, but the whole point of this article is to hear what YOUR thoughts are. Why do you think the NFL's (as a whole) ratings are toilet bound? What do you see as the issues? Do you have any proposed solutions?