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Why the NFL Isn't Going Anywhere

Brian Taylor

Posted on September 13, 2017 18:10

1 user

The NFL remains the titan of the American sporting landscape. Here's why that isn't changing.

It's a common refrain every year this time of the year, FOOTBALL IS BACK! While as fans we're excited to have actual games to watch, nobody is more excited to have a distraction from the problems facing their league than Roger Goodell and the league executives: From player misconduct off the field, to the new things we're learning about CTE and the lasting effects of constantly getting hit, to the franchises who have turned their back on an entire fan base by uprooting to a different city. Heck, the NFL has managed to upset both conservatives AND liberals with the way they've handled the National Anthem protests.

Looking forward, there don't appear to be a lot of reasons for optimism. The product on the field is not as good as it used to be, and over the next generation I expect that trend to increase as more young athletes look at the risk factors associated with playing football and turn to other sports such as basketball or soccer to pursue their athletic dreams. 

All of these factors combined with outside influences have seen the TV ratings take a hit, but even with last Thursday's season opener being down 14% over last season's opener, Kansas City's big win over New England was still watched by more people than the first four games of this year's NBA Finals.

For all the things the NFL does wrong, the one thing they've been able to do well, whether on purpose or not, is their ability to make themselves more than just the game - it's an entire event.  Due to the nature of teams playing one game a week, the league has created this idea that Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) is a football day. From teams being able to focus on one game through the week, to the tailgate experience at the stadium, or gathering at the bar or the friend's house that has the NFL Sunday Ticket to Fantasy Football, the NFL will forever have staying power because of the place it has carved out in our culture and the bonds and memories people form from those experiences.

This trend of sports consumption being "event" driven is noticeable in other sports too. Assuming the USA qualifies, next summer the general sports viewing public will be flag-wearing soccer fans who are ALL ABOUT the World Cup. But how many of those people are watching the qualifiers or their future favorite player play in MLS? This year's Masters was watched by ten times as many people as watched The Heritage the following week. Why? Because it's THE MASTERS!

The NFL may take its lumps, but we still find ourselves tuning in most Sundays. Unfortunately for fans, it appears the NFL knows this and appears unmotivated to improve on or off the field.

Brian Taylor

Posted on September 13, 2017 18:10

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Source: Forbes

Overlapping sports programming kills NHL TV ratings, not so much NFL

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