Will Leitch (of Deadspin fame) wrote an article that appears in the November 27th issue of New York Magazine entitled “Is This the End of the NFL?”. The piece claims “so many people just aren’t watching (the league) at all”; supporting the argument with just a single fact, TV ratings are down 5.7% YOY. Leitch believes that concerns regarding player brain injuries, anthem protests, the quality of play and even league implemented rules (i.e. targeting) designed to make the game safer are turning fans away. Exacerbating the demise is the ascension of the NBA; a league that he sees as “vibrant, organic and alive” because it embraces the personalities and opinions of its athletes.
Howie Long-Short: I saw this click-bait and felt the need to provide some context. TV ratings are down as Leitch stated, but the league is still averaging 15.1 million viewers/game; the ’17 NBA playoffs (1st round through conference finals), on ESPN/ABC, only averaged 4.26 million. Television ad revenue is up 3% YOY (to $738 million) across the league’s broadcast networks and fan attendance is up (from 68,914 in ’16 to 69,264) this season. Those metrics simply don’t show present the picture of a business nearing its end.
Fan Marino: 3 million DISH subscribers “weren’t watching” the Chargers-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving, due to a blackout of CBS Corp. (CBS) channels. The 2 companies have since managed to agree on a transmission agreement for satellite subscribers; though Sling TV subscribers (DISH’s digital service) remain in the dark. Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker said it was DISH who caved, giving in to consumer demand on a “popular NFL-heavy holiday weekend.”
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