The NFL has struggled with ratings all season, using the election as their excuse for subpar numbers. With election day come and gone, what will happen next weekend?
The 2016 season is already nine weeks old, but at times it seems like the year is slipping by with dramatically less focus. Yes, there are interesting stories like the resurgence of Dallas and Oakland, but the main topics seem to come back to the election and TV ratings.
For seemingly forever, the NFL’s TV dominance has been like an army of White Walkers – growing, unrelenting, and bound to consume everything.
Every week there is a new story about how the NFL ratings are down in one of the TV segments. While an NFL apologist will state that it is because the bar has been set too high, an upward trend can’t continue forever. However, this is a nightmare scenario for Goodell, who wants his league to dominate the US landscape and beyond. His excuse has been the Presidential election campaign. Seriously? You think people can’t watch the NFL game and get the election news the rest of the week?
Take the Monday Night Football game this week. The massive crowd in Seattle, super loud. Great open-air environment with the downtown lights in the background. Two exciting young QBs in Wilson and Taylor. A back and forth match with controversial calls (or no-calls) and a last minute finish.
The result? A 7.8 overnight rating, the lowest in nine years. The last election didn’t have this impact. The truth is that the election is a convenient excuse for Goodell, but misses the point. People weren’t more interested in the election than the NFL. If anything, most people wanted a distraction from the campaigns.
What he doesn’t want to admit is that a lot of the blame falls to him. The NFL should be easy to manage. Air the games, let the players be individuals, create an exciting competition. However, his continued overreaching has slowly turned the fan base and players against him.
This week, Saints QB Drew Brees stated,
I know the players don’t have any faith in the way that things are conducted within the front office in the NFL — certainly when it comes to any type of investigation, when it comes to any type of commissioner discipline.
Fans, the media, and (maybe most importantly) advertisers will be carefully watching the TV ratings next week. If the NFL doesn’t see a climb back to 2015 numbers, especially in the playoffs, Goodell’s power hold may finally start to loosen.