As you may know, you don’t want more regular season and/or postseason NFL games. You’re likely angry that the proposed new CBA, one that is expected to pass with a majority of “yes” votes by the players, includes one more regular season game and two more postseason teams.
I get it, football is just an over-saturated entity at this point.
OK, but why are you watching the NFL Combine? Why is it airing in prime-time, and why are the ratings relatively good for a show about people in shorts running and lifting and circling around cones?
That’s right, the NFL Network, in a move to draw more eyeballs to the event this year, decided to put the annual dog and pony show known as the NFL Combine on in prime-time. And it worked. According to Pro Football Talk, Thursday’s live coverage averaged 322,000 viewers—a 119 percent increase over last year’s Day One ratings—and peaked at 517,000 viewers from 9-9:15 p.m.
The PFT article I linked above suggests those numbers could be disappointing, but no they are not. If you can get a half-a-million people to tune in and see nothing, you’ve got the public sitting quite snugly in the palm of your hand.
Let’s face it, you love football, as do I. We are about a month into the rebooted XFL, and the ratings for Week 3’s games were 2.05 million viewers (Fox), 1.91 million viewers (ABC), 1.47 million viewers (ESPN) and 1 million viewers (tiny little FS1). Yeah, those numbers were down from the first week, but if a million people tune into watch a minor league football game on a cable network not named ESPN, that means they’re searching for the sport. They’re yearning for the sport. They want more, more, more.
Heck, the NFL’s annual scheduling event, where it’s revealed when teams will play (not where and whom, since that is determined months prior) is a big deal. Celebrities announce team schedules. People discuss them......passionately.
Last year, the three-day NFL Draft averaged 6.1 million combined viewers on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. The NHL’s Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues averaged 5.47 million viewers over seven games...on NBC...an over-the-air network.
You might think those numbers are respectable for the NHL, but the Stanley Cup Final is the gold-standard event for hockey—it should have been a blow out ratings victory and not a narrow loss.
Not only do people turn on their television sets to watch the NFL Draft, they actually attend the event in person—an activity that comedian Bill Burr once compared to showing up to a graduation where you don’t know anyone who’s graduating. Jets fans show up every year and boo their team’s first-round pick as if it were another Mark Sanchez butt fumble. People paint their faces. They chant. They cheer. They hold up signs.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, 600,000 fans attended last year’s draft weekend, held in Nashville, Tennessee.
So people love watching NFL prospects get poked and prodded. People love watching NFL prospects get drafted. More people can probably name who the 10th player taken in last year’s NFL draft was than they can the MVP of last year’s Stanley Cup Final. People love minor league football enough that I have readers yelling at me for not giving the XFL a fair shake.
Yet, people don’t want more top tier football? They don’t want more of the best product the NFL has to offer—actual games with things at stake?
I find that hard to believe.
Saying you don’t want more football just seems cool, but you don’t really mean it. It’s like saying you want to be an organ donor. Nobody REALLY wants to be an organ donor for obvious reasons.
You might say you don’t want more football, but the NFL Combine is now airing in prime-time and doing fairly well.
You want more football.