It’s a strange thing to say, but the NFL, the most successful sports business in the world — an enterprise that brings in more money annually than the NBA and Premier League, combined — needs a win.
They’re poised to get one this weekend, but only if the Seattle Seahawks cooperate. It’s no secret that television ratings are down for the NFL this season, and that’s obviously a concern for the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell calls the downtick a “cyclical” part of rapid growth, and he’s correct. The league has also taken a stance that ratings are down because of the presidential election’s “unprecedented interest” and they’re right about that too.
The downtick cannot be that easily written off, though. So far this year 27 of 28 prime-time games have failed to beat the viewership numbers of the same 2015 time slot, and that kind of trend should scare the NFL to its core. Those prime-time, showcase contests are the games the league counts on to turn its current $13 billion in revenue into Goodell’s goal of $25 billion by 2027 (going rate for a primetime rate these days: $45 million per contest).
There aren’t too many exciting prime-time games left on the NFL schedule (unless you want to get excited about the Chiefs or New York Giants, which means you were probably already watching the games), so the league will surely be rooting for the Seahawks to summon some mystic strength and deliver its A-game to Foxborough.
The NFL really needs a win, and the biggest one it could get is a Seahawks victory Sunday night.