While no one can agree on the cause, it’s clear that NFL ratings are in decline. Whether the cause is a particularly big presidential election, excessive penalties, player protests, or a lack of parity, or any combination of those factors, people are getting sick of the NFL and tuning out.
With 3 different prime time slots to fill, and only a handful of good teams in the league, it’s no wonder people are tuning out. We’ve got too much football, and most of it is pretty bad. While the NFL seems surprised by the decline, NBA franchise owner Mark Cuban isn’t. He predicted this decline two years ago. Via ESPN.com:
“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said two years after the NFL announced an expanded TV package. “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.”
“They’re trying to take over every night of TV,” Cuban said. “Initially, it’ll be, ‘Yeah, they’re the biggest-rating thing that there is.’ OK, Thursday, that’s great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you’re impacting colleges. Now it’s on four days a week.
“It’s all football. At some point, the people get sick of it.”
Cuban is right, people seem to be sick of it. Of course fans are going to tune in to watch their teams play, but prime time games are supposed to draw the big advertisers and national audiences to go with it. That audience is declining, and the NFL needs to take things seriously if they don’t want to get left in the dust.