NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had better be careful patting himself on the back over the NFL’s ratings or he might tear a rotator cuff.
Goodell turned some heads prior to the AFC wild card game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills when he defended the NFL’s declining ratings to several reporters, per ESPN.
“We always want ratings to go up,” Goodell admitted. “But we’re 37 of the top 50 shows (on television), which is higher than ever.”
Goodell even corrected himself mid-sentence to truly accentuate how strong he believes the NFL’s ratings were.
“We’re likely to be the No. 1 show on Fox — excuse me on all of television, the Fox Sunday afternoon game,” Goodell said, referring to the NFC wild card game between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.
Goodell went on to tout “Sunday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football.”
“[‘SNF’ during] prime time is, for the seventh year in a row, the No. 1 show [in television ratings]. ‘Thursday Night Football’ is No. 2,” Goodell bragged.
Goodell then proceeded to show off his greatest bit of hubris yet.
“I think dominance of the NFL in television is still very clear,” Goodell said.
“Dominance” seems like a strong word considering the ratings are the weakest they’ve been in several years.
In fairness to Goodell, the NFL still rules television ratings, with 20 of the 30 highest-rated television shows being football games.
But Goodell’s latest comments seem to demonstrate a complete lack of awareness.
The NFL is dominating a diminished television landscape that’s been under siege from Netflix and other streaming services, some of which are illegal.
Being proud of that is akin to touting one’s dog as the best dog in a room otherwise full of cats. While technically true, that assessment completely ignores context.
Major League Baseball has been gathering steam in the ratings behind a slew of exciting young players such as Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.
The NBA virtually closed the ratings gap with the NFL on Christmas Day, which would have been inconceivable just three years ago.
Meanwhile, the NFL continues to take pride in its “Thursday Night Football” ratings even though the quality of the games has been terrible and players and coaches alike despise playing on such a short week of practice.
But perhaps the biggest concern for NFL fans is that Goodell’s statements reflect his mindset that the NFL is just fine the way it is, despite the numbers screaming otherwise.
That probably means Goodell won’t be implementing any changes to the NFL’s approach, much to the chagrin of football fans hoping otherwise.
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