Did you watch last night’s 34-21 Jets win over the Bills? Even if you’re a football fan, there’s a good chance you didn’t. The NFL’s expanded Thursday slate rubs players the wrong way, and with general viewership declines, many media executives are blaming the Thursday games for the public’s general football fatigue.
There is, to put a fine point on it, too much football. There is Thursday night. There are Sunday morning London games. There’s the early Sunday game, the late Sunday game, the Sunday night game. The Monday night game. Soon the Saturday games will start. I like football fine, but that is too much football.
“I do think it’s clear that adding 10 games to the Thursday night package and two additional Sunday morning London games has clearly diluted the Sunday afternoon packages and affected the ratings. It’s just simple mathematics,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.
That’s from this Wall Street Journal piece, which examines the many potential reasons for the NFL’s year-over-year ratings declines (even as just about all TV ratings are down, thanks to changing viewership habits), and lands on overexposure as a key cause.
That echoes the quotes in this SportsBusiness Journal piece from a week ago, in which executives bemoan the surplus of NFL games available. NBC Sports head Mark Lazerus told SBJ that “I do believe that there is a lot of football on and by the time you get to Sunday, there could be a fatigue.” Interestingly, the biggest ratings hits are coming on Sundays, for both the afternoon and night games.
I’m not ready for football on Thursdays! We just had football three days prior. I am entirely happy waiting until Sunday, a day I probably don’t have better things to do. (On another tack, it’s still pretty incredible to me that for any given Thursday night game, a potential viewer doesn’t automatically know without looking it up what channel it’s going to be on, or if it’s going to be broadcast over-the-air at all. That is a piss-poor way of getting viewers to make it part of a routine, and routine often feels like the best thing the NFL has going for its popularity.)
As someone with no financial interest in this and who thus will and should be ignored, I say: Nuke the Thursday game. I won’t miss it. Players sure as hell won’t. Here’s Bills guard Richie Incognito, after last night’s messy loss:
“They suck,” Incognito said of Thursday games. “They throw a wrench in our schedule. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this. As physical as this game is, as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games on four-day weeks, it’s completely unfair and bullshit. The league makes money off it, and that’s all they care about anyway.”
Football should take a longer nap.