NFL's Declining Viewership: One Slice at a Time

Bergs

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31 posts in and no one has come in with the "I'm really quitting this drug once Brady and Belichick are done! That'll show the NFL!!!" I'm impressed.
And image if you hadn't decided to bring it up for no reason... We'd have 50!

Edit... Well 49, technically.
 

Erik Hanson's Hook

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31 posts in and no one has come in with the "I'm really quitting this drug once Brady and Belichick are done! That'll show the NFL!!!" I'm impressed.
For me, it's the quality of play when you're not watching Pats games. We're so spoiled as fans to watch this coaching staff. Our second string QB just outperformed - pretty much every other QB in the league over the first 2 weeks? I watch our games, then change the channel and it's: 2 yard run, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, punt. With maybe a pass interference thrown in somewhere.

It's boring. The league needs a Golden State, a team who completely challenges the way the game's played. Heck maybe that's us, and who we've been
 
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DolphinJones

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I’m just adding to IdiotKickers, dhappy42 and others posts. Great thread.

Disney which owns ESPN has very high carriage fees ($7.04) which people are objecting too. That does not include the remaining ESPN, Fox Sports, Golf channels and other sports related programming. Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers are growing.

People are switching to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu which do not offer live sports and no commercials which contribute to the loss of viewership and advertising revenue. Pay for some sports on streaming devices is available.

It will be interesting when the CBA comes up again in 2020 and viewership (revenue) is declining. To quote behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman , “Negotiations over a shrinking pie are especially difficult because they require an allocation of losses. People tend to be much more easygoing when they bargain over an expanding pie.”

I usually dislike terms like “Peak” but in this case maybe “Peak ESPN” or “Peak Goodell” are not offensive to me.
 

CTSOX

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Nov 23, 2005
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The drop in NFL ratings isn't about the anthem protest or concussions. It's because of demographics and technology. TV ratings are down across the board because fewer people watch TV.
I think people still watch TV, they just don't watch LIVE TV. Netflix, Apple TV, KODI etc.. have allowed people to cancel cable and binge watch whatever they want for almost no cost in comparison. I guarantee more TV is being watched now than ever, just not as it airs.
 

Bowhemian

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So far this season, my NFL viewing time has dropped dramatically. But that is not due to any kind of protest, or anything like that. More personal than anything.

Week 1 I watched most of the 1PM game (Jets vs whoever it was), and maybe an hour of the 4PM game. Since I get up at 4AM on weekdays, I didn’t even watch the Pats game at 8PM. It is way too late for me, because once I start watching it, I will watch it until the end and never be able to fall asleep. Monday PM games I had no interest in.


Week 2 I watched zero NFL on TV. I went to the Pats game, and by the time I got home, I was too tired to even turn on the TV. Monday PM, I honestly forgot there was even a game on. No matter, would not have watched it anyway.


Week 3 I might watch the first quarter tonight, but that will be it for me for the weekend. I’ll be doing yard work all day on Sunday.


In summary, for this 1 guy, my viewership has certainly declined over prior years. That is due mostly to the scheduling of the Pats games to date.
 

accidentalsuccess

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Now that I can watch soccer in almost any of the major leagues I'm watching way less football. Too many commercials, ridiculous double standard refereeing, and boring games. I'm serious when I say that I have dropped to only watching the pats and not caring too much if I miss a few games. Lots of kids in their 20s aware watching EPL, not NFL. I see way more soccer jerseys on kids than football or baseball these days, too.
 

Monbo Jumbo

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My pet theory is that EVERY form of entertainment has a smaller audience because there are so many more options available.
....
1000x times this. I quit on the NFL quite a while ago.

Google Books has basically everything before 1921 for FREE. It's my primary form of entertainment now.
 

OCST

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Saw an article in the LA Times in the decline in viewership of HBO's boxing slate.

Another good example of what's going on here. Go back 50 years and public interest (and hence tv viewing) was dominated by baseball, boxing, and college football.

Given the meteoric rise of the NFL, and the increase in popularity of the NBA, the NCAA basketball tournament, MMA, and even recently soccer, plus tons of niche options (way into college hockey? Now you can watch that key Clarkson-Minn Duluth matchup in lieu of Browns-Raiders), and the market share leaders of 50 years ago had nowhere to go but down.

Now the NFL is prey to the same forces.
 

Hoya81

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Goodell's push for maximizing the league's profits has brought the NFL to the point of over-saturation/overexposure. The biggest misstep has obviously been the Thursday night games, which has devalued one the leagues most enduring traditions (Thanksgiving) and has placed cash as a higher priority than maintaining a quality product on the field.

Scheduling more London games with the Quixotic hope that it will somehow lead to a franchise relocation/expansion is another one. A London franchise would never be able to play in the Sunday 4:15 or 8pm slots, so why bother staging a team there?
 

OCST

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Goodell's push for maximizing the league's profits has brought the NFL to the point of over-saturation/overexposure. The biggest misstep has obviously been the Thursday night games, which has devalued one the leagues most enduring traditions (Thanksgiving) and has placed cash as a higher priority than maintaining a quality product on the field.

Scheduling more London games with the Quixotic hope that it will somehow lead to a franchise relocation/expansion is another one. A London franchise would never be able to play in the Sunday 4:15 or 8pm slots, so why bother staging a team there?
I'm sure the NFL has noticed that Premier League games on NBC are getting good ratings in the 10:00 AM Eastern time slot, and even in the 7:30 AM slot (good being relative- better than the Flowby infomercial that would usually be running then). I got into the Premier League when my daughter was an infant, and my wife would sleep in on Saturday mornings, and I would take the kid at 6am. I really only watch sports. What's this- sports at 8am on Saturday? Cool! To this day, PL viewing on Saturday morning fits better with my schedule than watching the Red Sox, since 7pm on weekdays is prime family time- finishing up dinner and getting kid ready for bed.

So while I understand that London expansion is stupid for a number of reasons, any provider of TV programming would be eager to open up a new daypart.
 

slowstrung

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Even if viewer numbers level off, I would think advertising revenue will drop at some point. Its been a few years since I've watched a game without DVR, so they only take an hour and change to watch (I fast forward through time between snaps, not just game breaks). Typically for a 1pm game I'll start the recording around 3 or so, and finish about when the game ends in real time. For night games I usually get up early and watch what I can before work, if I don't have time to watch it all, I skip to the second half. I can't remember the last time I sat through a full a commercial break or a halftime show. I know there's been chatter for a decade or so about limiting DVR function (like on demand plays of shows), but I haven't seen any actual steps taken. Advertisers have to be aware by some metric that their are plenty of fans like me who aren't cord cutters, but still aren't seeing the ads. It seems strange to me that record revenues continue to be the norm.

On an unrelated note, I have two young sons who we've already decided will never be allowed to play tackle football, so I doubt they'll grow up with as much interest in the game.
 

mauf

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Even if viewer numbers level off, I would think advertising revenue will drop at some point. Its been a few years since I've watched a game without DVR, so they only take an hour and change to watch (I fast forward through time between snaps, not just game breaks). Typically for a 1pm game I'll start the recording around 3 or so, and finish about when the game ends in real time. For night games I usually get up early and watch what I can before work, if I don't have time to watch it all, I skip to the second half. I can't remember the last time I sat through a full a commercial break or a halftime show. I know there's been chatter for a decade or so about limiting DVR function (like on demand plays of shows), but I haven't seen any actual steps taken. Advertisers have to be aware by some metric that their are plenty of fans like me who aren't cord cutters, but still aren't seeing the ads. It seems strange to me that record revenues continue to be the norm.

On an unrelated note, I have two young sons who we've already decided will never be allowed to play tackle football, so I doubt they'll grow up with as much interest in the game.
Advertisers do look at this closely. Turns out people like you who DVR live sports events are relatively few and far between -- which is why the value of TV rights for all sports has been skyrocketing, even as national broadcast ratings of the major sports (ex-NFL until recently) have been in decline.


Goodell's push for maximizing the league's profits has brought the NFL to the point of over-saturation/overexposure.
Say what you will about Goodell, his decision to lock up the league's TV rights into the next decade looks awfully smart right now. There's a good reason the owners tolerate having him as the face of the NFL, despite his near-Bettman-level unpopularity with fans. Even if the extra primetime games are diluting the product, I can't imagine any owner would do an NPV calculation and leave the extra money on the table.
 

tims4wins

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Tolerate is the wrong word. The owners freaking LOVE him because he stands there, takes all the bullets, and is willing to push uncomfortable positions, all in the sake of increasing revenues.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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I’m just adding to IdiotKickers, dhappy42 and others posts. Great thread.

Disney which owns ESPN has very high carriage fees ($7.04) which people are objecting too. That does not include the remaining ESPN, Fox Sports, Golf channels and other sports related programming. Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers are growing.

People are switching to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu which do not offer live sports and no commercials which contribute to the loss of viewership and advertising revenue. Pay for some sports on streaming devices is available.

It will be interesting when the CBA comes up again in 2020 and viewership (revenue) is declining. To quote behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman , “Negotiations over a shrinking pie are especially difficult because they require an allocation of losses. People tend to be much more easygoing when they bargain over an expanding pie.”

I usually dislike terms like “Peak” but in this case maybe “Peak ESPN” or “Peak Goodell” are not offensive to me.
I'm not as convinced that we are seeing a real decline in viewership as yet,but assuming that there is one, I am not sure that what the NFL has to offer isn't helped by the forces you share above. Netflix, Amazon Prime et al are awesome and definitely steal time away from the major channels, but they also don't have ads. The one thing that live sports delivers is eyeballs on ads. I am not sure that every minute of NFL programming (and MLB, etc) isn't move valuable with every passing month.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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I'm sure the NFL has noticed that Premier League games on NBC are getting good ratings in the 10:00 AM Eastern time slot, and even in the 7:30 AM slot (good being relative- better than the Flowby infomercial that would usually be running then). I got into the Premier League when my daughter was an infant, and my wife would sleep in on Saturday mornings, and I would take the kid at 6am. I really only watch sports. What's this- sports at 8am on Saturday? Cool! To this day, PL viewing on Saturday morning fits better with my schedule than watching the Red Sox, since 7pm on weekdays is prime family time- finishing up dinner and getting kid ready for bed.

So while I understand that London expansion is stupid for a number of reasons, any provider of TV programming would be eager to open up a new daypart.
I think that the league will be in London within the next decade. They can pack out the stadium every game and as long as they keep the franchise out of Thursday and Monday night games there is no reason why they couldn't be visible to their fan base at prime viewing hours throughout the season. The only problem would be if they made the Super Bowl, but my hunch is that the league could figure that one out.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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My first thought went to the bolded comment above. We're all a product of our own environments and experiences but I have had numerous friends tell me that they just can't abide watching the NFL or college football in the face of the CTE news. The notion that they would be watching a significant percentage of players turning themselves into vegetables and the NFL's purposeful ignorance of the same has lead some to look away. One friend mentioned that the impact on kids who subject themselves to the risks of tackle football, which is partially fueled by their worship of NFL players and team loyalty, makes it much harder to watch pro football.
If your friend lets his kid watch soccer or the Tour de France (and let's face it. If he isn't watching football then we know he is watching those things until ultimate frisbee gets a league) then you can call him on the carpet. Soccer appears to have higher concussion rates than football at the youth and HS level and riding a bike is so far ahead of pretty much anything else a kid can do in terms of concussion rates and raw numbers of concussions (even with helmets), it isn't even funny.

Concussions are serious things and we should worry about them. But football is being held up as if it is child abuse while soccer and bicycling are getting minimal attention. It is still significantly healthier for a kid to play football than for them to not play sports.
 

Stitch01

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I'm not as convinced that we are seeing a real decline in viewership as yet,but assuming that there is one, I am not sure that what the NFL has to offer isn't helped by the forces you share above. Netflix, Amazon Prime et al are awesome and definitely steal time away from the major channels, but they also don't have ads. The one thing that live sports delivers is eyeballs on ads. I am not sure that every minute of NFL programming (and MLB, etc) isn't move valuable with every passing month.
That's been the case so far, but probably wont last indefinitely as absolute eyeballs fall. Monetizing streaming and alternatives is always tricky. Rights package increases are dependent on carriage fee increases and I dont think channels can push those up at historical rates much longer.

Im in the camp that the CBA negotiations may get interesting like in the last lull in revenue in sports in the 2000s.
 

EL Jeffe

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Sample size of one...we cut cable out this summer (and I haven't missed it a bit, to my surprise). So I haven't watched any MNF on ESPN and I've barely watched any network football outside of the Pats games, either. I just don't care as much anymore. This is the first year I haven't done fantasy football in probably 20 years. I'm still invested in the Patriots and I suspect I always will be, but the league itself can eat a bag of...

My suspicion is the declining numbers is a gumbo of cable cutting, too many competing interests, and the millennial/youth market growing up in an era where football just isn't as big of a deal anymore.
 

Spacemans Bong

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I think that the league will be in London within the next decade. They can pack out the stadium every game and as long as they keep the franchise out of Thursday and Monday night games there is no reason why they couldn't be visible to their fan base at prime viewing hours throughout the season. The only problem would be if they made the Super Bowl, but my hunch is that the league could figure that one out.
The Super Bowl is easy and British sports fans (as you know) are more flexible about time anyway. Anybody who likes cricket, rugby, boxing or pretty much anything except for soccer is used to getting up early or staying up late for a big event. Plenty of people here take the day off after the Super Bowl already.

The biggest logistical concern to me is if London is a playoff team and hosts playoff games. Imagine them hosting a divisional or championship round game and a West Coast team having to fly out on a week's notice. You'd pretty much have to play that game at 1pm EST unless the mayor, police and council agree to keep the Tube open all night and that would be brutal on the visiting team.
 

TheoShmeo

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If your friend lets his kid watch soccer or the Tour de France (and let's face it. If he isn't watching football then we know he is watching those things until ultimate frisbee gets a league) then you can call him on the carpet. Soccer appears to have higher concussion rates than football at the youth and HS level and riding a bike is so far ahead of pretty much anything else a kid can do in terms of concussion rates and raw numbers of concussions (even with helmets), it isn't even funny.

Concussions are serious things and we should worry about them. But football is being held up as if it is child abuse while soccer and bicycling are getting minimal attention. It is still significantly healthier for a kid to play football than for them to not play sports.
Fair points. But those sports are not getting the level of attention the NFL is getting (the movie "Concussion," lots of articles) regarding this issue. In any event, I think the biggest point is that there are numerous factors at play. To me, the CTE issue is one of them (and one that I keep hearing mentioned), and even though that did not just pop up, it's one that I think will affect and wear people down people gradually, particularly when mixed with other causes like Goodell's never ending douchebaggery, the terrible officiating and the other items that have been mentioned upthread.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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The Super Bowl is easy and British sports fans (as you know) are more flexible about time anyway. Anybody who likes cricket, rugby, boxing or pretty much anything except for soccer is used to getting up early or staying up late for a big event. Plenty of people here take the day off after the Super Bowl already.

The biggest logistical concern to me is if London is a playoff team and hosts playoff games. Imagine them hosting a divisional or championship round game and a West Coast team having to fly out on a week's notice. You'd pretty much have to play that game at 1pm EST unless the mayor, police and council agree to keep the Tube open all night and that would be brutal on the visiting team.
Good point and you are right. Waking up at 4:00 a.m. for the match vs. New Zealand, or the Grand Prix from Adelaide or some such is more common. I don't know how folks would feel about being season ticket holders and having to start watching at 11:00 en masse, but maybe it could work.

I think that every match in London would need to be played at 4:15, or maybe even 5:00, or 6:00 p.m. GMT. I think that would be reasonably well received, even though it doesn't follow the NFL's traditional kick off times.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Most London games kick off at 6pm here. That's the same time as the early games for the States. The NFL's experimented with some early starts and they did go over well, but I think it was more that people who were travelling from the other side of the country could day-trip to London and make it back without needing a hotel. A London team would have mostly London-based season ticket holders, so you would expect that not to be as big of a deal.

In re: concussions. It's hard to find a direct comparison of stats from the NFL to rugby, but I'm hearing of rugby clubs getting kids whose parents won't let them play football and I laugh. I'm pretty sure the rates are not far off the same, and the subconcussive impacts that can do long-term damage are everywhere in rugby (which is one of the reasons they're slowly taking the hit out of the scrum, for example).

I can tell you I definitely got at least one. Probably more, headaches the day after games were not uncommon.

You don't want your kid to get a concussion, play baseball/softball. Stick-and-ball sports like that have the lowest rate of concussions by some distance. Anything that's physical... you might as well let them play football if that's what they're trying to get out of rugby/wrestling/lacrosse/etc.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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Fair points. But those sports are not getting the level of attention the NFL is getting (the movie "Concussion," lots of articles) regarding this issue. In any event, I think the biggest point is that there are numerous factors at play. To me, the CTE issue is one of them (and one that I keep hearing mentioned), and even though that did not just pop up, it's one that I think will affect and wear people down people gradually, particularly when mixed with other causes like Goodell's never ending douchebaggery, the terrible officiating and the other items that have been mentioned upthread.
I agree, a lot of parents are upset by the media. Youth enrollment in football is declining notably as a result even though - in my opinion - the game at the youth level gets safer every year as coaches have more resources for learning and parents are starting to understand the risks better. My son's team started every single practice working on tackle drills with pads and then moved to blocking drills with pads. The amount of "hard" contact in practices is way down and the focus on technique is way up.

I am starting to get to a point where I am not sure that the NFL will lead the charge on concussions, but youth football will. We are starting to see a growing number of High Schools and even youth teams putting concussion caps onto helmets, drills are being tweaked for player safety. The NFL has seemed to abdicate its responsibility on this issue, which is shameful. Whether people stop watching it because of CTE et al in big numbers is to be seen.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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In re: concussions. It's hard to find a direct comparison of stats from the NFL to rugby, but I'm hearing of rugby clubs getting kids whose parents won't let them play football and I laugh. I'm pretty sure the rates are not far off the same, and the subconcussive impacts that can do long-term damage are everywhere in rugby (which is one of the reasons they're slowly taking the hit out of the scrum, for example).
Anecdotally and small sample size, but I got 3 that I know of in all my years playing and I certainly knew a ton of guys who got them. Judging from the rates I see from my elder son's football experience, and factoring in better knowledge that we have now, I think the rates are probably similar, or slightly higher for rugby.
 

Spacemans Bong

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One last thing about rugby - even if the concussion rate is, say, 20% lower, - which it probably isn't - it has to be mentioned that the awareness of concussions in rugby is pretty bad.

It's basically seen as something that only happens to NFL players, and ex-pros who have retired due to concussions have said coaches/teammates telling them to game the system (which has only just come into existence) is rife. It's slightly more of an issue in the UK than in somewhere like Australia because the NFL is more popular here and CTE issues get reported on, but you go down under and I don't think anybody is taking concussions in rugby seriously.

Ironically, because your average US rugby player/coach/fan is probably also an NFL fan, awareness is better, but I think it underlines how much of a mirage rugby being safer for your noggin than football is.
 

RetractableRoof

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Questions for the rugby players... my perception is the lack of helmets causes the players to play in a fashion that isn't crazy w/ respect to getting your head knocked off. The presence of the helmets in the NFL seemingly adds to the feeling of invincibility which allows the players to use the head as a weapon. Are players in rugby truly reckless with their heads while playing?

I'll hang up and listen..
 

Reverend

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So everyone's gonna just blow by dehere's substantive explanation of what the numbers are really showing and keep tossing around the plaything idea that may or may not have a loose relation to reality?

Carry on.
 
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One last thing about rugby - even if the concussion rate is, say, 20% lower, - which it probably isn't - it has to be mentioned that the awareness of concussions in rugby is pretty bad..
Right - I think part of the problem here is that people are forgetting that the general public isn't particularly good at evaluating risk, or educating themselves. Whether or not rugby is more or less dangerous than football is irrelevant to viewership - what's important is the perception of danger, and that's certainly higher for Football.

(Soccer also has a major concussion problem, but nobody is pulling their kids out of youth soccer because of it)
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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So everyone's gonna just blow by dehere's substantive explanation of what the numbers are really showing and keep tossing around the plaything idea that may or may not have a loose relation to reality?

Carry on.
Pretty much. I mean......he pretty much explained that people are still addicted to the product, but they had some better things to do in week 1, which makes me feel smarter but I didn't want to rub it in. I'm talking about concussions now because that is fun.

I'm open to other topics too.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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Questions for the rugby players... my perception is the lack of helmets causes the players to play in a fashion that isn't crazy w/ respect to getting your head knocked off. The presence of the helmets in the NFL seemingly adds to the feeling of invincibility which allows the players to use the head as a weapon. Are players in rugby truly reckless with their heads while playing?

I'll hang up and listen..
No. The tackling form taught in rugby is virtually identical to that taught in football in terms of head placement (eyes up, to the side of the body between the thigh and the numbers). In some instances in rugby a tackler will allow the ball carrier to gain an extra yard or so on the tackle because the field position doesn't make "knocking the person backwards" important, but for the most part the tackling is very similar. Shuffle steps, eyes focused between numbers and belt, eyes up, head to the side, arms wrap and up.

As you note, the irony of the helmet is that it is both protection and a weapon, a helmet to helmet collision is a bell ringer. you don't have that in rugby, but what you do have is concussions through contact with knees and elbows in the tackle, as well as the occasional head-to-head. I can honestly tell you though......very few youth football players and even HS players lead with the crown of their helmet anymore, at least that I have seen.
 

SpaceMan37

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Right - I think part of the problem here is that people are forgetting that the general public isn't particularly good at evaluating risk, or educating themselves. Whether or not rugby is more or less dangerous than football is irrelevant to viewership - what's important is the perception of danger, and that's certainly higher for Football.

(Soccer also has a major concussion problem, but nobody is pulling their kids out of youth soccer because of it)
A lot of youth soccer leagues have banned headers because of concussions.
 

accidentalsuccess

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There was a concussion protocol for club and MS/HS soccer when I played in the 90's. I only saw two guys get concussed in hundreds of games at that level. Subconcussive hits, maybe, but the research is still out on that. Regardless, my parents and me now as a parent have the real belief that soccer is way safer than football. That includes all kinds of injuries but also head injuries. There's just no way that soccer players are at a higher risk of concussions than football or rugby players. Stats I've found online show 64-78 per 100,000 for football and 19-19.2 per 100,000 exposures (practice or game) for boys soccer. Interestingly (and perhaps worrisome) it's 33 for girls soccer. Still way lower than football. Some studies show that rates are rising for youth soccer, which may reflect the more competitive leagues for younger and younger players. That's something I'm not in favor of for any sport.

Will soccer overtake football in popularity? Maybe but no time soon I think. I do think the fragmented media argument others have made is pretty convincing. I wonder whether NFL makes more $$ per set of eyeballs for other venues than TV (online streaming, etc).
 

54thMA

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I barely watch any NFL games outside of the Patriots anymore. I have little free time as it is on the weekends so I can't devote 3 hours to a game on TV that I am not interested in. I definitely can't sit there for a whole day and watch 1 pm/4 pm/8:30 pm. I'll occasionally watch a game if it involves key AFC teams the Patriots are fighting for HFA with. I don't even know the last time I even watched a whole MNF game that didn't involve the Pats as they always suck.

I will watch every playoff game as my weekends are less busy in those times.
This post nails it; outside of the Patriots games, I basically could care less unless there is a game involving other AFC teams that are jockeying for position with the Patriots.

Playoff games are a different story as well.

My Sunday 1:00pm to 11:00pm runs are over.....................
 

ifmanis5

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Sunday Night's game was the lowest rated in seven years: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brandonkatz/2016/09/19/nfls-sunday-night-football-tumbles-hard-in-ratings-yet-again/#6dfc00e41ad5

Overall, NFL ratings are also down: http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2016/09/monday-night-football-ratings-down-espn-nfl-viewership-bears-eagles/
Through two weeks, ten of the first 13 NFL telecast windows have posted declines in ratings and viewership. That includes nine windows that have hit multi-year lows.
 

Ed Hillel

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Just to accentuate a point, the top story on ESPN is about Adrian Peterson's knee injury, and the next three are about police shootings and/or race relations. I've tried to figure out why the NBA and NFL are suddenly inserting themselves into all of these political issues, and the best I've come up with is all the old boys club white owners are just trying to prove/put up a front that they aren't all racists like Donald Sterling. Good for them, I guess?
 

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Lots of good stuff here. Certainly there is no single answer/silver bullet to point to. I suspect that the overall media/tech environment is the biggest single factor. Massive fragmentation in channels, devices and content is unsurprisingly leading to ratings declines on traditional linear TV. The NFL has done a great job bucking that trend, but you can only defy gravity for so long. It's not like they can grow the fan base substantially to offset this - over 2/3 of adults are already NFL fans in some form.

And then when you layer on top of this all of the atmospherics in terms of concussions/CTE, Goodell, domestic violence, over-saturation etc... no one should be surprised that ratings are moving in the direction they are. We have almost certainly witnessed Peak-NFL, at least on a relative basis. I'm sure their revenues will continue to rise and they will remain the dominant property in the US sports landscape for at least another generation.
 

TFP

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So everyone's gonna just blow by dehere's substantive explanation of what the numbers are really showing and keep tossing around the plaything idea that may or may not have a loose relation to reality?

Carry on.
But I haven't watched a single snap this year! Anecdotes!

Edit: I really haven't and I haven't missed it. But dehere's post was very interesting and I'd like to learn more from his perspective as we move throughout the weeks. The headlines aren't telling the full story.
 

mauf

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A key thing to understand is that TV viewership stats are a function of both the number of people watching and the amount of time they spend watching. It's possible for one to be up while the other is down.

This is in fact what actually happened in Week 1. The total number of people watching any NFL increased over 2015 by about 600k.

The amount of time they spent watching per game decreased by less than a minute.

But the number of games they watched declined by almost -4%. The average viewer watched at least some of 2.6 game windows in Week 1. Last year it was 2.7.

So, make of that what you will. I can think of several reasons why that might happen but I can't prove any of them.

We won't be able to get a read on total reach of Week 2 til tomorrow, but point being when you read that Week 1 ratings were down - and they were - it's not a matter of fewer people, but more people spending less time.
If this were a consumer product, I'd be worried as hell, because it suggests I'm losing my heavy users -- for most products, 10% of users account for half of sales. Adding a few casual consumers is nothing compared to losing those heavy users.

But the NFL is not a consumer product; its a media property. Its biggest fans surely account for an outsized share of ad revenue, but I'm skeptical that the 10/50 and 20/80 ratios from the consumer products world apply. Still, I can't imagine it's a good thing for the NFL, unless it's just people who normally watch wall-to-wall football getting some fresh air in the waning days of summer.
 

crystalline

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So everyone's gonna just blow by dehere's substantive explanation of what the numbers are really showing and keep tossing around the plaything idea that may or may not have a loose relation to reality?

Carry on.
Hey. Yes.

And there was also a post about how MLS ratings are UP on Sundays. People are still talking about the NFL ratings drop being due to cordcutters and viewers having more entertainment options.
 

joeflah

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Feb 1, 2015
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31 posts in and no one has come in with the "I'm really quitting this drug once Brady and Belichick are done! That'll show the NFL!!!" I'm impressed.
Intended to never watch or pay attention again to the nfl at the instant the Pats were passed over in the first round of this years draft. Instead I never noticed the draft as it was happening. Watching TV show on Sunday before the 11 o'clock news, all commercials ended with a blurb for upcoming news stories. One was about a QB the Rams selected with their first round pick. At that point I realized I was done. SOSH doesn't count does it?
 

Devizier

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I've tuned out pretty much everything but baseball this year. Wish I could say my reasons were noble, but football is too much of a goddamn time suck and the game just doesn't translate to radio.
 
Nov 24, 2015
1,204
Lots of good stuff here. Certainly there is no single answer/silver bullet to point to. I suspect that the overall media/tech environment is the biggest single factor. Massive fragmentation in channels, devices and content is unsurprisingly leading to ratings declines on traditional linear TV. The NFL has done a great job bucking that trend, but you can only defy gravity for so long. It's not like they can grow the fan base substantially to offset this - over 2/3 of adults are already NFL fans in some form. \
They've been completely immune to the trend - general TV ratings have been dropping for several years while the NFL ratings have shot through the roof. If it was the diversification of media driving this, we would have seen symptoms over the last couple of years instead of yearly double digit gains every year, followed by a big drop.

Something specific that happened over the last 12 months is driving this - it could be all the scandals. It could be the fact that the two biggest names in the game over the last decade are both not playing right now, it could be the anthem stuff, it could be the Concussion movie. It could be all of those things - but it just being the diversification of media just does't fit.
 

mauf

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Hey. Yes.

And there was also a post about how MLS ratings are UP on Sundays. People are still talking about the NFL ratings drop being due to cordcutters and viewers having more entertainment options.
I agree that it's not just long-run macro trends, but MLS ratings are irrelevant. It's like pointing to an I Love Lucy marathon on TV Land as driving NFL ratings down.
 

singaporesoxfan

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They've been completely immune to the trend - general TV ratings have been dropping for several years while the NFL ratings have shot through the roof. If it was the diversification of media driving this, we would have seen symptoms over the last couple of years instead of yearly double digit gains every year, followed by a big drop.

Something specific that happened over the last 12 months is driving this - it could be all the scandals. It could be the fact that the two biggest names in the game over the last decade are both not playing right now, it could be the anthem stuff, it could be the Concussion movie. It could be all of those things - but it just being the diversification of media just does't fit.
Agree with you that media diversification doesn't fit trends, though the explanation could also be non-NFL stuff specific to 2016 getting attention or turning people away from TV – e.g. the election, a lovely summer.
 

crystalline

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I agree that it's not just long-run macro trends, but MLS ratings are irrelevant. It's like pointing to an I Love Lucy marathon on TV Land as driving NFL ratings down.
It isn't that MLS is cannibalizing NFL viewers.

It's that MLS ratings are a control group.

If one thinks cordcutters, demographic trends, the election, and the warm summer are the only thing hurting the NFL, why are soccer ratings going up? Hint: soccer is getting more young viewers. That's a bad trend for the NFL.

Edit: to be fair, this argument is a bit simplistic and Deere's explanation is much more fine-grained. A closer look at viewers could uncover different trends. But you can't ascribe NFL viewership numbers to tech changes when soccer is exposed to the same tech changes.
 
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johnmd20

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It isn't that MLS is cannibalizing NFL viewers.

It's that MLS ratings are a control group.

If one thinks cordcutters, demographic trends, the election, and the warm summer are the only thing hurting the NFL, why are soccer ratings going up? Hint: soccer is getting more young viewers. That's a bad trend for the NFL.

Edit: to be fair, this argument is a bit simplistic and Deere's explanation is much more fine-grained. A closer look at viewers could uncover different trends. But you can't ascribe NFL viewership numbers to tech changes when soccer is exposed to the same tech changes.
MLS' ratings went from minuscule to somewhat less miniscule. It means nothing relative to cord cutters, the NFL, or the long term trends of TV watching. It has nothing to do with young people or old people. It has to do with the sport gaining a tiny bit of popularity, which translates into a big ratings jump because it was starting from such a very low number.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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I've tuned out pretty much everything but baseball this year. Wish I could say my reasons were noble, but football is too much of a goddamn time suck and the game just doesn't translate to radio.
WHAT????

Football on the radio is fantastic. I consume probably 80% of my baseball over the radio so I am probably an outlier for the medium, but I listen to probably 40% of my football on the radio. It is fantastic.
 
Nov 24, 2015
1,204
Picking MLS as a control group for media ratings is like using Sandy Leon as a baseline for a chart on expected performance by age.