Amazing! top 12 TV ratings all football.. 5 years ago Zero
this is an amzing transformation- and just makes me shake my head these dummies may try and kill the Golden Goose
Why the NFL's sky-high TV ratings add pressure to CBA tiff
By Sean Leahy, USA TODAY
Every week is a milestone.
That could be the NFL's slogan for its TV ratings this season, which have exploded to unprecedented heights in an era when multimedia options have sent most TV viewership trends in a downward spiral.
The NFL has bucked that trend in a big way — last February's Super Bowl became the most-watched TV show in history. Through the season's first month, more than 150 million viewers tuned in to at least part of an NFL game, the most in league history.
And through Week 7, the 12 most-watched shows of the current TV season (and 13 of the top 15) have been NFL games. Five years ago, the NFL didn't crack any of the top 15 most-watched TV programs.
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Each of the four networks broadcasting games — CBS, Fox, ESPN and NBC— have set viewership records. Nothing on TV — not the Major League Baseball playoffs, not even ratings powerhouse Dancing with the Stars— is outdrawing the NFL.
It's a sign of how much the league could lose if the uncertainty surrounding its soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement devolves into a work stoppage next season.
Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka says NFL owners could find a huge backlash if they permit the game to enter a lockout after the current CBA expires in March.
"You've got an $8 billion business — take care of it," Ditka says. "Make sure it doesn't go sour. Don't kill the golden goose.
"There's no one going broke in football."
That includes the networks, who have billion-dollar deals with the NFL that are locked in through at least 2013. The contracts provide for the networks to pay the NFL even in the event of a work stoppage next year, a stipulation the NFL Players Association has called lockout insurance for the league.
However those rights payments would eventually have to be reimbursed by the NFL, and the networks have no insurance against the tens of millions of dollars they could lose in advertising revenue from a schedule potentially left with holes vacant by an NFL lockout.
Publicly, the networks don't want to
talk about the NFL's labor uncertainty. But privately, network executives are sweating out what could happen if the NFL was mired in a dispute that forced them to fill the blocks of airtime that right now are drawing record ratings, says Mark Lev, a sports business analyst who is the co-managing director of the Fenway Sports Group.
Are network chiefs such as CBS' Sean McManus and NBC's Dick Ebersol quietly telling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell how important it is for TV interests that he agree to a new CBA quickly?
"I don't even think they have to say that," Lev says.
Sponsors — who spend millions on NFL broadcasts — may also be anxious for the league to find labor peace. Companies build advertising campaigns around the NFL many months in advance. They need to be certain their football-themed pitches will be paired with actual games.
Goodell, who insists the NFL wants to get a deal done as quickly as possible, would not speculate on the TV ratings' impact on negotiations when the league's owners met in Chicago earlier this month. Fans don't want to hear talk about CBA issues, he says.
"I think (the TV ratings) show a little bit of what fans are focused on," Goodell says. "They hear there may not be football (in 2011), and our job is to bring football.
"I'd rather have them focus on the season."
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay acknowledges that the high ratings give owners pause about the ramifications of a protracted impasse.
"It's something you want to do everything you can to avoid that and get something done," he says.
"It's something where you continually weigh all the things you're trying to do. People know this is a business, but people also know it's a love affair. It's something very special to all of us that are around it. So you have to weigh both."
Just from last year, when the average NFL game drew a 19-year-high of 16.6 million people watching, viewership in the first month of the season was up 14% to 18.9 million viewers. NFL games were the top-rated TV show in a record 93% of the league's markets during that time.
While the NFL may now be a magnet for TV viewers and advertising dollars, there are lessons from past labor disputes that show fans may not tune in as widely to a league bogged down by in-fighting. Baseball took years to rebound from its 1994-1995 strike, and the NHL didn't match playoff TV ratings achieved prior to its 2004-2005 lockout until this year.
That's a warning the NFL must heed, Lev says.
"You just don't want to do anything to alienate a fan base that is so loyal and dedicated to your product," he says.
"That's a hard thing to rebuild from."
But Marc Ganis, a sports business analyst who is the president of SportsCorp, a consulting company, says he's confident the NFL will be able to withstand a negative reaction to the labor dispute.
"This league, under Goodell, has shown a great ability to connect with the fans," he says. "And that's why you're seeing more 12-month-a-year activity by the NFL, and you're seeing more anticipation for the season and greater ratings as a result.
"If there is a backlash from the fans, it'll be shorter-term rather than longer-term."
Ganis sees the CBA dispute as merely a blip on the radar of the NFL's TV future because the current contracts are locked in for several more years. The recent history of the league's TV deals — which included both CBS and NBC giving up TV rights in the 1990s and subsequently buying back in at a higher rate — suggests, Ganis says, that the NFL will instead be able to cash in on the current high TV ratings because of how much more viewers tune in for professional football than for anything else.
"If your network partners make money, if you're the NFL you will eventually take that money from them," Ganis says. "It may be in the next contract cycle, but the networks know that they must have this."