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NFL Dominance

Discussion in 'Football: NFL, College, High School' started by MadMax, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    Seriously, this is crazy. I'm Brian Fellows.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/business/media/20ratings.html?_r=1

    The Top Attraction on TV? No Script, but Plenty of Action
    By BILL CARTER
    Published: December 19, 2010


    it wasn’t clear before, this season has underscored the point, italicized it and shouted it from the rooftops: N.F.L. football is by far the most popular form of programming on American television.


    The evidence: Of the 20 highest-rated telecasts of any kind so far this television season, 18 have been N.F.L. games on CBS, NBC or Fox. In terms of the best of 2010, nothing else comes close. Of the 50 highest-rated programs during the calendar year, 27 have been N.F.L. games, including 8 of the top 10.

    And at a time when little or nothing on television increases its audience, the N.F.L. is still finding new viewers. NBC’s Sunday night games are up 10 percent this season. With three games left, “Sunday Night Football” is certain to complete the fall as the most-watched offering in prime time, the first time the N.F.L.’s prime-time showcase (which began in 1970 as “Monday Night Football”) has ever attained the top ranking.

    CBS’s Sunday afternoon games are also soaring, up about 10 percent from last year. Games on Fox are up about 2 percent. ESPN’s Monday games are about flat with last season, which that network considers remarkable because last season’s games broke all records.

    The games on ESPN not only dominate cable television (the top 13 spots in cable ratings this fall are all N.F.L. games) but also have become a force against a network show on that night. While the show, “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC, managed to draw more viewers over all, “Monday Night Football” smashed all its competition among the younger-adult viewers most sought by the networks.

    “We’re all a little bit surprised this season,” said Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports. “But the N.F.L. is just a really, really valuable television package.”

    Advertisers certainly know it. Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports, said that pricing for commercials (the specifics of which vary enormously because of the way packages of commercials are put together) is up everywhere the games are carried. (A fifth package of games is shown on the N.F.L. Network, the league-owned channel.)

    NBC also reported that more advertising dollars had been attracted by one growing audience segment, one not conventionally associated with football: women. NBC’s Sunday games this season rank third in prime time among women 18 to 49 (after “Dancing” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC) and those 18 to 34 (after “Glee” on Fox and “Grey’s Anatomy”).

    The last half-hour of NBC’s pregame show is now a significant hit itself, validating that network’s plan to push the N.F.L. in prime time further than “Monday Night Football” (which filled only two hours of prime time) ever did. NBC stretched its N.F.L. coverage to all four hours of Sunday’s prime time, adding the title of “Football Night in America” (a play on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s long-running “Hockey Night in Canada.”)

    Of course, Americans have followed football with an almost religious fervor for generations. But there have never been so many games on before, with so many people watching so many of them.

    None of that means the networks make money from the games. Rights fees are huge (the league takes in about $4 billion a year in television money) and losses for the networks are routine. But no network is complaining. The games provide audience circulation like nothing else the networks can buy, and they use the once-a-week mass assemblage to promote their other programs.

    Football has for decades been declared the ideal sport for television, because of its high quotient of action and natural breaks for commercials. But network sports executives say that the viewing experience continues to get better, with the most obvious visual advance coming with the introduction of high-definition television, which has made the game and its players stand out as never before.

    “HD has been the dollop of frosting on top of everything else,” Mr. Ebersol said. “If you think about it, the game is rectangular anyway, and now you buy this big rectangular screen.”

    Eric Shanks, the president of Fox Sports, cited improvements in camera lenses and locations — especially the overhead camera that tracks plays from above and behind — and in audio as well.

    Fox began the season by using microphones on players in the middle of the action, which undoubtedly influenced the early perception of this season as probably the most physically intense — and violent — in memory. (In later games, many players declined to wear microphones, which Mr. Shanks said prompted Fox to develop even more sensitive microphones on the sidelines.)

    Mr. Ebersol cited the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, who, he said, first compared N.F.L. games to another popular television form. “Bob said, ‘We have the greatest reality show in all of the medium,’ ” Mr. Ebersol said.

    Mr. Shanks leaned toward a different comparison. “It’s kind of like going to an action movie every Sunday,” he said. He emphasized the star power among the league’s leading men. “Quarterbacks drive ratings,” Mr. Shanks said.

    Fox has an inclination to take the movie comparison to the next level. For the last two weeks, on regional games with smaller audiences, the network has played a musical score in accompaniment with the coverage of the games. The idea, Fox contends, could be the next big innovation in television football coverage because the audience is growing more accustomed to having music with every form of entertainment.

    “I think that’s a bridge too far,” Mr. Ebersol said. “I don’t think football is remotely comparable; it’s much bigger than a movie.”

    All of the network executives cited how effective what they called the story lines behind this season had been, from the electrifying play of Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles after his prison sentence for running a dog-fighting business, to the seeming omnipresence of Brett Favre in news headlines.

    Finding and exploiting the story line was the approach of ABC’s Roone Arledge, the creator of “Monday Night Football” and the man who elevated football on television to equal status with other forms of entertainment. Mr. Ebersol, who was a protégé of Mr. Arledge, pointed to the current cast of analysts on games at each network, calling them “great storytellers.”

    Mr. McManus said: “Every week there are at least three games that are very appealing on a national basis. That comes down to story lines. There are so many story lines that are compelling.”

    Mr. Shanks said: “The stories get people there. The product keeps people there.”
     
  2. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    The NFL and owners would be foolish to leave all this money on the table next season.
     
  3. GRENDEL

    GRENDEL Contributing Member

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    I could do without music mess that Fox is playing with, that's just stupid.
     
  4. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    And that damn robot!
     
  5. Ramu3

    Ramu3 Member

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    The greatest thing about NFL is that, it is not about small market / big market syndrome .
     
  6. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    On the surface, it may not be (in terms of which teams get TV coverage, etc.)... but amongst the owners, there is definitely a dichotomy of "big market" and "small market" teams.
     
  7. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    The owners and their PP measuring contest doesn't ruin the league though, unlike the other big sports.

    The scarcity of the product and the parity of competition has made the NFL the most profitable league in American sports history.
     
  8. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

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    I wish someone would smash that stupid robot.
     
  9. ghettocheeze

    ghettocheeze Member

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    I blame NFL Redzone for making Sundays completely unproductive in my household. Before, I would watch the Texans broadcast for sure and maybe flip in and out of the secondary matchups, only watch it entirely if it was a solid matchup or close game in the 4th quarter. Now, Redzone has become an obsession with every touchdown happening live. Seven hours of complete addiction.
     
  10. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Redzone should be credited right up there with HD, running scoreboard, fantasy football and prime-time football as one of the "best things ever to happen to the NFL".

    Its just a matter of time before this becomes mainstream (more mainstream than NFL Sunday Ticket), and cable companies are going to have to supply it due to demand. Of course, the NFL could envision more $$$, charge cable companies more, and then they pass it on to the consumer (right now, its only ~$30 to subscribe for an entire season).

    It could also lead to dwindling subscribers to NFL Sunday Ticket, which may finally lead to a price reduction in a product that has never faced serious competition until now.
     
  11. Fyreball

    Fyreball Contributing Member

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    So what does the RedZone channel show when none of the ongoing games have a team in the red zone??
     
  12. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    They usually will show the "marquee game" of the time-slot. They never have commercials, so they always have to be showing a game of some sort.

    As the day goes on, they show more highlights in those "dead spots". Its not as big of a deal since everybody in the country should have access to the "marquee game" in the 3pm time-slot over local TV, but they still show good chunks of games that don't feature any red zone opportunities (I remember one game last year that they basically showed the entire game... I believe it was Pack-Vikings, Brett Favre fest).

    But its really awesome for the noon games that they don't show here. For instance, anybody who had RedZone got to watch Desean Jackson's TD return live (which wasn't a red zone play), whereas if you lived in Houston, you were stuck with the Cowboys game and then nothing but the post-game show.
     
  13. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    I don't think we can forget what a great NFL season it's been. The story lines have been great. From Brett Favre's text messages and sucking to the Donovan McNabb soap opera to Randy Moss's soap opera to Michael Vick's resurgence to the emergence of Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster to the Andre Johnson beatdown of Cortland Finnegan to the Metrodome collapse, it has been one of the most interesting seasons in a really long time. Every week, it seems like something happens that gets the NFL into the news (and not just the sports news). And it's not just the stories, there have been a lot of really good games, and a lot of them in prime time. Even tonight, as disappointing as the Vikings have been, I'm excited about the game, outside in the freshly shoveled University of Minnesota stadium. I got a text from a friend that I watch MNF with about it at lunch. He's pumped about watching a game among two teams that neither of us have a rooting interest in that probably will have little effect on the playoff picture. That's the mark of a great sports season.
     
  14. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    GRRRR!!! :mad: :mad: Stop reminding me.

    Anyone know how the NFL's revenues are split between gate receipts, merchandising and television revenues? I remember many moons ago it was a big deal when TV money finally surpassed ticket revenues.
     
  15. jdh008

    jdh008 Member

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    It's actually amazing how long that robot has lasted. I don't know a single person who likes that. As a matter of fact, I don't know who Fox is trying to appeal to by putting it on their broadcasts.
     
  16. ghettocheeze

    ghettocheeze Member

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    I used to have Sunday Ticket several years back but having to constantly switch between channels gets boring after a few years. Redzone makes it more exciting to watch football cause every time they go to a certain game, you know somebody is about to score. Wish the NFL would build on this idea with like an interactive customized Redzone channel where the viewer can preselect to only certain matchups, teams, players with specific criteria on when to tune into that game. So for example, I can link my fantasy team and then switch to a game every time one of my fantasy player scores. The possiblity could be endless, say I only like kickoff or punt returns, so the channel flips through kickoffs and punts. This kind of customization is going to revolutionize the viewing experience. This will be the future of television sports.
     

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