The NFL is still the most popular of all American sports, but it looks to be losing some of that popularity. Television ratings dropped around nine percent with total viewers going from 17.9 million in 2015 to about 16.5 million in 2016.
The NFL claims that they lose ratings in each election year, but that’s only part of the reason. NCAA football’s ratings were up in the 2016 besides the national championship. Clearly, the NCAA has a lot more followers and has grown to be more popular than the NFL. While the NFL is still exciting to watch, it has become a bore at many times over the past several seasons. Monday night games have been lackluster and Thursday night games are a snooze fest. It seems that the only games that are exciting are in weeks 12 – 16 when teams are trying to claim a playoff spot. But even playoff ratings were down six percent last season.
The biggest problem the NFL faces with dwindling ratings is lack of star power. A lot of that is due to injuries, and not enough stars like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers to gain interest overall. When a team isn’t doing well, many fans will lose interest. It use to be they’ll watch any good football game, but not anymore because the star power isn’t what it use to be. When my Bengals were downright awful in the 90’s, I’d still watch the likes of Brett Favre or John Elway. I’d still be entertained by Jerry Rice or Tim Brown. There’s plenty of talent in the NFL and they perform well, but today’s game seems to lack the superstar status that attract millions of viewers each week To their television sets gearing up for some Sunday football fun. That doesn’t mean that teams aren’t any good, but the NFL just hasn’t been as exciting on a weekly basis. College football has seemed to become the front runner in exciting football games and will continue to do so. They produce by far greater finishes and a more exciting overtime system.
While the NFL has been lacking the quality from previous years, the players aren’t to blame. The NFL and all of the owners are the ones responsible for the decline. They’re either not doing enough or not making the right changes to attract younger viewers. In tge 80’s and 90’s, you had players like Walter Payton, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, and John Elway who people tuned in to watch even if they weren’t big fans. That’s because they provided a lot of quality football games. When you had legendary QB and WR duos like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, people want to see them play. That’s just not the case today.
The players are still good and many will go down as the greatest of all time, but the issue is now that the NFL would rather promote itself other than the players that make it so great. Owners have their hand a little too deep in the cookie jar too. Ticket prices are continuing to go up every year with a single ticket going for an average of ninety dollars. That’s another reason why fans are losing interest. The average NFL ticket cost $90 compared to $60 for a college football ticket. Some teams can command higher prices, but most can’t. Even though they still charge higher prices.
The NFL will continue to lose ratings because they just don’t seem to get it. They’re turning their backs on the fans and not catering to what fans are looking for. Going to games is still fun, but many fans are opting for cheaper college football games or just not watching at all.