The idea that television ratings for the NFL are down due to political reasons is about as inaccurate and stupid as the belief that ESPN is losing viewers and bleeding money over a "liberal agenda."
How dumb are these two ideas? They're in the same ballpark as the origin and significance of #MeanGirlsDay.
Hey, I love that Tina Fey-Lindsay Lohan comedy from the early 2000s as much as the next person, but the fact that #MeanGirlsDay was the number one trending term on Twitter nationally for much of this past Tuesday, simply because of one line of dialogue that's extremely banal, unfunny and irrelevant to the plot, is exceedingly moronic.
("I asked him what day it was. It's October 3rd, I responded.")
It's about as moronic as these two theories about current events, and what is shaping them. ESPN is losing money because they grossly overpaid for broadcast rights, including the NFL, and they're losing viewers due to cord cutting.
People are tuning out of ESPN simply because they are parting ways with cable. That's it- plain and simple. Yes, many ESPN personalities have voiced their progressive views on social media lately, but the network is still run by rich, old ultra-conservative white men.
As for the NFL, their issues are more complex and systemic, and stem from problems that have been present long before Donald J. Trump's political career began.
Adnan Virk is an on-air personality at ESPN who appears on multiple programs and possesses expertise in several sports. He was gracious enough to do a podcast with us this past week and on this NFL Sunday, it's the perfect time to recall his thoughts on politics affecting NFL viewership.
"Ratings were down 10% last year, and people said oh, it's just a political effect, people are watching Trump," Virk said.
"It's not like it's going away."
"Donald Trump is such a polarizing figure, whether you love him or hate him, people are always paying attention to him, but it's so funny to me, when people say the political slant has hurt this," as he then pointed out the faulty logic at work here.
"It's not like Donald Trump is doing three hours of speeches opposite the NFL. Whatever major story is going on, the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas, or the horrible situation in Puerto Rico, those are major issues right now, but I don't think anyone is going 'because I want to see Trump's reaction to that, I'm not going to watch the Chargers game.'
"You're either a NFL fan or you're not. Ratings were down 10% (last year), ratings are down again this year, you can't just blame politics again, you can't say just it's because Trump's base is boycotting the NFL - that's ridiculous."
Virk then went on to posit his theory as to what is really going on with the NFL.
"What I do think it is, is that there's this shift now, this whole theory we had that the NFL is too big to too fail is not necessarily accurate, they can have ratings go down just like all of television."
"It's not like the anthem is three hours of people kneeling, it's not always televised, so even if you were so aggrieved by it, you're so offended that anyone would do this- wouldn't you just skip the first ten minutes?
"You'd be like 'alright kick off is at one, I'll tune in at 1:10.' It's just the stupidest thing ever."
You can hear the whole podcast with Virk embedded below via Sound Cloud.
This despite the pointless and worthless masturbatory press releases sent out by sports television network PR flaks. These releases consist of nothing but cherry picked Nielsen numbers, selected to construct an asinine self-serving narrative with no relevance to anyone outside of their company.
This propaganda trash is then spammed out to journalists, and unfortunately, some of the lazier and less interested members of the media then copy and paste these missives that should be company newsletter only braggadocio and then pass it off as genuine news.
The NFL broadcast partners can construct this corporate narcissistic drivel and email blast it out all it wants, but that still won't change the fact that the NFL has lots of major issues within itself that are forcing people to tune out.
These issues were around before Trump and could likely be around after he's gone
The NFL has now crossed over into Amy Schumer and Megan Kelly territory- reviled by some people all across the political spectrum and on the two wings of the party.
While some who both vilify and deify Colin Kaepernick are boycotting the NFL, they simply aren't doing so in numbers large enough to make this kind of significant dent in ratings.
Kaepernick is out of the league and very likely not coming back this year (despite all the TERRIBLE quarterbacking in the league right now, here's a list of eight QBs that don't deserve to collect a paycheck over Kap), so there's only a very limited amount of influence you can attribute to him.
What's really hurting the NFL is an entire series of articles in itself, as it's a big combination of many factors, some of which include:
-Game broadcasts have been extended too long and include too many stoppages in order to accommodate all the additional advertising.
-That simply doesn't fly in this age of millenials and their shrinking attention spans while corporations bend over backwards to cater to them.
-Heartfelt team and player allegiances are often getting replaced by commercial allegiances to fantasy teams and wagering interests.
-Many players have run afoul of the law, committing violent crimes, often against women, and the NFL has been too blase about it all, sometimes with a response so weak and disinterested that it insults the intelligence of their consumers. While Jerry Jones might believe he's taking a stand in defending the flag, and the national anthem, it falls on deaf ears, because he has no moral high ground to stand on- not when he's signed woman-beater Greg Hardy, among the other deplorable things he has done.
-Teams in the biggest media markets (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago) have been mediocre to much much worse in recent years and don't really look to be getting better any time soon.
-The league is simply micro-managing itself to a point where it's turning people off. The obsession over message control uber alles and tweaking on field rules that should have just been left alone are reaching the point of absurdity.
-It's a market correction, as NFL popularity was way too high to begin with. It is in many ways an Icarus that just flew too close to the sun, and now his wings are melting.
The NFL is still the most popular aspect of American culture, as it's one of the very few entertainment products able to transcend this era of everything being in niches.
However, it's still far from bullet proof.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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