So on Sunday I decided to take it easy, lounge around the house and relax while watching the NFL. My wife was a bit under the weather so I had her permission to do so.
I started with the Bengals v. Redskins game at Wembley Stadium which was a decent game and in which I had a rooting interest. It’s not often when you’ll hear me say, “Go Redskins!” but when it helps the Ravens, I do it – happily!
Of course that game ended like a sister-kissing contest. No one lost and no one won. But for now we can chalk it up as a semi-victory for the Ravens, provided of course they can knock off the Steelers this Sunday.
The rest of the day I spent largely locked in on Scott Hanson and The NFL RedZone.
My wife sitting beside me wanted to just focus in on one game but I convinced her that staying with The NFL RedZone would be more enjoyable. There are no commercials, you see the best plays from around the league and there isn’t a plethora of play stoppages that include penalties, reviews, further explanation from the officials, injury timeouts, etc.
After convincing her, it dawned on me how much the league has fallen. There aren’t as many superstars as their used to be and the quality of play has fallen off noticeably. Maybe the younger upstart athletes who used to be the burgeoning stars have opted to play other less dangerous sports with longer careers and more guaranteed money. Penalties have risen annually since 2013 and this season the average team is flagged seven times for 61 yards. Yesterday teams averaged 7.9 penalties for 66.2 yards.
That’s no less that 16 stoppages per game to discuss mistakes players made on the field.
It weakens the viewing pleasure, dulls the fan experience.
Yesterday I pondered this aloud on Twitter.
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) October 30, 2016
I actually thought that despite the potentially deciding game 5 of the World Series between the Cubs and Indians, Sunday Night Football would actually emerge as the TV ratings victor, given a divisional battle between capable clubs with large fan bases.
I was wrong.
According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily, the World Series Game 5 posted a monster 15.3 overnight rating, beating the aforementioned SNF matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys which drew an 11.6 rating. According to Sports Media Watch, it’s the first time since 2011 the World Series beat Sunday Night Football in the ratings.
World Series Game 5 (15.3 overnight rating) beat Cowboys-Eagles overtime game last night by 32% (11.6 for Sunday Night Football)
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) October 31, 2016
“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Mark Cuban said back in September of 2014. “I’m just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy.
“Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule No. 1 of business.”
NFL TV ratings are down. There are more empty seats at stadiums. If sponsors begin to trim back based upon a perceived drop in fan interest, the salary cap could flatten and with fewer dollars there will be fewer big contracts. More of the best athletes could seek out other professional sports.
And if Steve Bisciotti begins to embrace Cuban’s vision, he might want to bail sooner than later as an NFL owner.
Assume for a second that I represent the majority of NFL fans and the majority prefers The RedZone. What is one of The RedZone’s biggest sales pitches? IT’S COMMERCIAL FREE!
The game is too popular to experience an implosion as Cuban suggests.
Unless of course the league remains steadfastly arrogant and believes that they are the puppeteers and the rest of us are their sports puppets.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s only 2 hours left to get 15% off the list price of $31.99 on that way cool New Era Graphite Salute To Service Sideline Flex Hat.