There’s A Reason Ratings for NFL Are Down

If you look at any news source they will all tell you that ratings are down for the big bad NFL. But there’s a reason and it’s so frustrating.

More and more people are moving away from traditional TV and these old networks and companies are trying to force people into lingering on with the old way of doing things. The problem is that this is not the future. What’s the most frustrating part is being in the middle of this transition. These companies just aren’t listening to what customers want.

We, the customer, have been clamoring for years that we don’t want large TV bills. We want flexibility. We don’t want to have to pay for 200 channels when we really only want 10. And, I get it. There’s going to be some channels and shows that will probably die. But, that’s part of doing business. And, forcing crap on people that people don’t want is not helping anything. Adapt or die.

Here’s an example of what absolutely frustrates me.

I get all NFL Sunday games for $49.99 per month. Or, so I thought.

I have no TV. I stream everything. Seriously. I have a router. That’s it. So, when football came back around I knew I would have to figure something out to watch my favorite team. There’s absolutely no NFL blanket subscription you can get without already being on some sort of TV plan. Which makes no sense to me, well it does and I’ll explain in a second. So, I found NFL Sunday Ticket. I get all NFL Sunday games for $49.99 per month. Or, so I thought. And, here’s the frustrating part of the way that these companies are doing things. I can only stream out-of-market games, meaning I’m here in NYC and I can’t stream any local games here. I can’t tell you how frustrating this is. THEN, I can only stream games if the games out-of-market are sold out. Like, really? So, every Sunday, it’s basically a guess whether I’ll be able to watch any games at all. But, let me explain just how greedy this is on the part of the NFL and every other company that supports this behavior.

This is just another way for companies to try and squeeze out a little more money.
  1. The NFL has TV contracts with all these local cable stations so their games get aired and plenty of attention. So, this streaming option is really just something extra. And, I get that a streaming option now includes another mouth that has come to the table to get a bite and, therefore, must have a percentage come out of somewhere. However, these extra companies mostly already have contracts in place with those cable companies (I’m looking right at you DirecTV), so this is just another way for companies to try and squeeze out a little more money, this includes the NFL. And, it’s not like the streaming is suddenly advertisement free since you are streaming and not on an actual TV. No, no. You are going to see advertisement, which I am ok with as long as I get what I want. So, there’s more money these TV companies and the NFL are getting. Or, maybe it’s extra part of a contract they have with these advertisers for their good business. In either case, it’s not my problem. I just want to be able to watch the freaking game.
  2. The NFL has this very dumb blackout rule. And, I understand where it comes from. No one really likes seeing a stadium that is empty. It looks a little depressing. It’s always more fun to hear the fans yelling their heads off. But, that’s not my problem. And, they knew that even when they signed those big expensive contracts with those cable networks that there’s going to be more people watching on TV than at the stadium. So, here’s why it doesn’t make sense: more and more people are mobile. They aren’t sitting in front of dedicated TV. So, why are you strong arming these people? Wouldn’t you want to find a way for more and more people to watch? That means more exposure. That means more money from advertisers and a way to build a loyal following. More ways to watch means more eyes on your product. It’s so dumb to restrict people just because their life doesn’t allow them to be at a stadium to watch it. Also, if you don’t like that people aren’t flocking to the stadiums, do something about it. Make the stadiums better than ever. Give the fans something they can’t get in the comfort of their home. Like better food options (since more and more people like to eat healthy and are frustrated by food options at stadiums). Like a way to listen in on their team. Nascar has something super cool where you can buy/rent a radio and listen to drivers talking with their crew and their strategy. It bonds you with the team and makes you feel like you are in on it. Football should do the same. Of course, there could be issues with teams listening in but isn’t that why they already have plays broken down into keywords? I mean it would be a whole lot less confusing if they play was: fake hand-off block, deep posts, slot middle, tight flats. My point is: do something different, not the same old thing. Seriously, NFL, get rid of the blackout rule.
  3. Let’s not forget that the NFL gets the cities they live in to help buy these stadiums they put their product on every Sunday and the occasional Monday or Thursday. They don’t owe anything substantial in these deals. It’s an “investment” in the city. So, give the tax paying people what they want: a way to watch their team play even if they don’t have the means to be at the actual stadium they helped pay for. Don’t be greedy, NFL. If you wanted people at the stadium, then you wouldn’t have made all these deals with cable networks. Oh, and guess what? If there needs to be upgrades to the stadium, guess who pays for it. Yep, you guessed it: the city, not the NFL. A company that has managed to build itself into a multi-billion dollar industry is smart enough to think of a way to give people the option to purchase a streaming only option of ALL their games. Again, I say: if you want people at the stadium, then give them a reason. An incentive. Anything less is just an excuse for mediocrity.
  4. The NFL implemented a new rule that no team (and I’m assuming fans either) can post any kinds of video to a social platform without going to the NFL first. This includes gifs. Now, this is dumb on several levels. First, I get that they want to control the flow of media so they keep their hands in the pockets of everyone. But, making it hard for people to view your product is renownedly dumb. Why? Because it goes back to my first point. Making it more difficult for people to see your product. Now, I get that you wouldn’t want people uploading the full game or long videos of the games. But, think it through. Image you are scrolling through Twitter and come across a short exciting clip of a close game or a great play in a game. What’s going to cross your mind? Probably, “where can I watch it?” And, that’s exactly what the NFL should want. More ways to draw people to their product. If they are going to limit these interactions, they should limit the clip length, what it’s about or, perhaps, making the clip lead to a link to view live footage. Not restricting it all together. So dumb.
Seeing a picture or clip of something like this would make you want to watch more
If they want to survive, they are going to have to evolve.

These are just a few reasons that the NFL and these TV companies are making stupid mistakes and are causing major issues with ratings and coverage of their products. If they want to survive, they are going to have to evolve. Stop forcing people into one way streets and build your product to be flexible. Of course, there’s going to be executives that read things like this that say to themselves, “our product is too good for people to stop.” Or, “people will always find a way to watch.” But, is that really true? I’m sure Baseball said the same thing and look where they are. And, look at the ratings this season. It doesn’t appear that people are going out of their way to watch. But, you can always just keep doing what you’re doing and let Netflix take more and more of your market share and watch as people jump to more straight forward streaming options and show less interest in watching yours because they are not as convenient and cost so much more.

Now, I’m not saying people will stop viewing sports, even in droves, but, as you can see from the ratings, more and more people obviously are not able to as much and, if they want to keep their ratings and revenue up, they are going to have to find a way to evolve.