Don’t Read into NFL Opening Night Ratings—the NFL is Still King

One of my favorite sports media days each year is opening night for the NFL.  So many hot takes start flying off the tip of Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith’s tongues and the magic happens from there.  Matt Ryan shit the bed Thursday night and was drug across the coals for it.  Nick Foles caught another football.  Julio Jones missed another opportunity to put away the Eagles on a fourth and goal late in the fourth quarter.  So much good stuff!  Mix that with the Nike ad to spice things up, and everyone will just look past the fact that the game itself sucked for three and a half quarters.

The most fascinating storyline I saw this morning came from NBC.  The TV ratings for Thursday night’s matchup between the defending Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons were released with the game receiving a 13.4.  This was a drop-off from last year’s opening night rating of 14.6.  Using math skills, this means that the viewership drop from the 2017 opener to 2018 opener was around 8.2%.  That is not an insignificant number.  The NFL haters along with the Colin Kaepernick haters jumped in on this faster than Big Don reaches for his phone while he is on the shitter.  There has been a steady decrease since the 2015 opener between the Steelers and Patriots, where that rating was a 17.7, and a 16.5 rating in 2016 between the Panthers and Broncos.  The problem with today’s society is that there must be a single reason why things go wrong.  It must be one person’s fault or another’s.  There is a lack of ability to believe there are multiple factors at play.  That is the reality in 2018, whether it is politics or sports, but that does not mean it is the right way to think.  Here is a list of reasons why the ratings have been dropping:

  1. NFL games in September are sloppy. The latest collective bargaining agreement provides much less time for players to work with coaches and teammates during the offseason, so they are more prepared for the next season.
  2. There have been tons of rule changes that confuse fans.
  3. There are a lot of cord cutters nowadays that now do not have cable to watch these games.
  4. The concussion epidemic is a serious one and is going to turn off a group of casual fans.
  5. The handling of all domestic violence issues. The NFL has done such a poor job handling every situation that comes up regarding this topic, and this drives away fans, especially female fans.
  6. Donald Trump has taken over every news network there is, and he is taking viewers from all demographics, not just sports.
  7. I refuse to discuss political opinions on my blog, but regardless on your Kaepernick feelings, the movement has most definitely driven away some viewers, especially people from midwestern states that do not have a team to root for in the first place.

I think each of these points have had some impact in ratings going down each season, and I have no clue which ones are more impactful.  You read all of this and think, “fuck, the NFL is really in a bind.  How are they going to survive this?  They need to make dramatic changes fast!”  That is the gist of what is being circulated around not only sports media, but also political media.  Although I agree the NFL drops the ball on a lot of crucial subject areas, it is honestly hilarious that people think the NFL is dying.  It is so far from that, it makes me question anyone that thinks any other sports league is going to surpass the NFL in the next five to ten years.

The rating on Thursday night was a 13.4.  This includes the fact that there was an hour weather delay that led to the game ending around 12:30am EST, the two teams looked like JV high school teams for three and a half quarters, and the largest athletic wear company in the world dropping an extremely polarizing advertisement campaign to backhand the NFL three days before their season kicked off.  This is a pretty bad draw for the NFL.  But you know what?  It still rated better than any of the Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals the previous four years.  Here is a list of the average TV ratings of the past four NBA Finals series:

Cavs-Warriors 2018- 10.0

Cavs-Warriors 2017- 11.3

Cavs-Warriors 2016- 11.4

Cavs-Warriors 2015- 11.6

Yeah… the NFL is dead…. Lol

The most important game in the NBA this decade is the Cavs-Warriors game seven in 2016 when LeBron won a title for the city of Cleveland.  You want to know what the rating for that game was… 15.8.  Now that is better than the past two opening night NFL games, but it is opening fucking night not the Super Bowl!

The NBA is on the up and up while the NFL is bashed and scrutinized on a minute to minute basis.  IT DOES NOT MATTER.  The NFL is polarizing.  The storylines are juicy.  NFL locker rooms are built of people from many different backgrounds that do not necessarily agree on a lot of things outside of football, while the NBA is a bunch of like-minded individuals.  Even the NFL haters are talking about the NFL constantly.  Like the saying goes, “Any publicity is good publicity.”

The NFL has a lot of work ahead of them, but they are no going anywhere anytime soon.  The TV ratings dropping are not good but taking small steps in the wrong direction and the league falling apart are two opposite things.  This will be a fun story to follow, but there is one important thing to take away from this—football is back.

Photo Credit: www.nbcmiami.com

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