What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Forget about all the “take a knee” crap. Forget about the current noise surrounding Papa John’s pizza. If you want some hard evidence that the National Football League is not performing as the ratings bonanza it once was, just take a look at that picture.
For the longest time, Direct TV used the NFL Sunday Ticket as its “hook” to draw sports fans away from cable. While your mileage may vary, here in the Dubsism World Headquarters in Indiana, Direct TV costs $280 a season if you get it as part of an upper-tier package in which you sign a two-year contract and get a cheap introductory rate which doubles after 12 months. It actually isn’t that bad of a deal if you are a sports fan and you have the cash to drop.
Let’s be honest. I’m the guy the hawkers of the premium sports packages are after. I have disposable income and I’m a massive sports fan. I’ve also got a history of buying these packages, and there’s sports on the television in my office as I’m writing this. But I’ve never once purchased NFL Sunday Ticket because it’s never been an attractive product to me.
Like I said, forget about all the things the NFL is doing now to alienate it’s fan base. The big swings in viewership come from the “casual” fan; the ones who flood Super Bowl parties and ask which team Tim Tebow plays for. These are also the ones who ebb and flow the profit tides of the Papa John’s of the world. There is a demonstrable relationship between the NFL and the profitability of the sponsors who advertise during its games. If there weren’t, ad time during NFL games wouldn’t be charged at a premium.
Don’t misunderstand me, I know the NFL makes it’s multi-billions via the money networks pay to carry the games, which in turn means the networks charge advertisers. The true beauty of the national anthem protest is it does a very good job of keeping everybody’s attention away from the real truth about the NFL. It is putting a crap product on the field and offers it to the consumer in an outmoded fashion.
I just mentioned that I’m watching sports as I’m writing this, and as I’m doing so, the NFL is one of my options. But I’m not watching the NFL; instead I’m taking in an NBA match-up. The reason why is simple. The NFL’s model for what games it allows me to access as a consumer is a relic. In today’s hyper-connected, “everything is available” world, the idea of “regional coverage” is an anachronism dating back to the 1960’s when owners were worried about the impact television would have on ticket sales.
To illustrate how flawed this thinking is, the idea of protecting ticket sales against the “evils” of TV is just plain silly given that the days in which the NFL paid it’s bills on the gate receipts are long since past. The NFL knows this because it panders to television in every way EXCEPT the “regional” non-sense. The NFL can’t even defend this by saying it’s protecting local advertisers; local stations only get the ad revenue from local spots during pre-season games; during the regular season and the play-offs, all television revenue is shared because there are no local broadcasting rights; the NFL controls everything.
In other words, I’m done listening to the NFL’s non-sense about it’s broadcasting policies. It’s time come clean about “regional” broadcasting having nothing to do with protecting anything local and being all about trying to get me to buy NFL Direct Ticket. It’s also time to admit that’s a failed strategy, and now is the time to fix the league’s ratings problems by making a simple change; scrap Direct Ticket, abandon “regional” broadcasting, and put every game on television.
There’s so many obvious benefits to this. Fox and CBS, the networks which have the rights currently for Sunday afternoons, both have multiple channels either over-the-air or on basic cable. This means the NFL can do what CBS does with the college basketball tournament. The networks can decide which game they want to show on the over-the-air channel which reaches the most viewers, and they can stair-step it down from there; the game they think will draw the least viewers can be on the basic cable channel with the smallest numbers. The technology exists to make sure teams are always on the over-the-air channel in their home markets to maximize viewership; that placates the local carriers who do get some local ad time during NFL games, and if nothing else, there’s several more avenues for revenue generation on Sundays.
Here’s the bottom line. Papa John’s sales are suffering because it’s business model is basically to be a Little Caesar’s which delivers; it’s all about cheap-shit pizza that caters to stoners, college students, and NFL fans who drank too much Bud Light on Sunday to drive to Taco Bell. But what Papa John’s shares with the NFL is that while most of it’s product is crap, not all of it sucks. It is nearly impossible to screw up double-pepperoni with extra cheese, and personally I love those pickled peppers they give you. But for anybody who has consumed their product recently, it’s obvious they have either changed the sourcing for their ingredients, or their suppliers changed what they provide. Either way, the finished product suffered.
No matter how you slice the pizza, there’s no debating the NFL’s finished product has also suffered. The NFL’s current “regional” model won’t give me the double-pepperoni with extra cheese; it forces me into thin-crust cheese and nothing. Give me double-pepperoni and extra cheese, give it to me at a reasonable price, and give me access to all of it.
This is the the quick, easy fix for the NFL’s ratings problems, but it has a life-span. Uncomfortable as it may be, the NFL still needs to deal with the hard problems I told you to forget about earlier, like the mess that is the use of instant replays, rules nobody understands (including the officials), and the elephant in the room; the fact some of the players are alienating the fans. No matter what it does with broadcasting policies, eventually the league has to address it’s big problems.