The National Football League is always looking for ways to gloss the shield.
And they really don’t have to try very hard because the NFL product is by far and away not only the most watched pro sport in this country but also the most beloved.
For example, NBC aired a mediocre Washington-Dallas football game which usurped Game 2 of the Detroit-Boston American League Championship Series. Wait, let me rephrase that, the NFL didn’t just usurp the MLB postseason, it obliterated it. The Redskins and Cowboys had 19.3 million viewers compared to just 8.3 million for baseball.
Recently the NFL said it wants to have add another Thursday football game to the schedule because it is disappointed in the sagging ratings. Now, I know that when the NFL Network was rolled out in 2003 at a cost of $100 million, the end goal was to get legitimate games (which of course means sans preseason) on the station.
And three years later, it happened. Thursday Night Football was born. It began as a novelty that started after Thanksgiving, but since 2012 it has shown Thursday football from Week 2 through Week 15.
But despite the NFL’s gorilla shadow over the rest of the sports world, as of August 2013, only 62 percent of households with TVs get the NFL Network. I’m glad I didn’t subscribe this season because the games have mostly been discarded waste that none of the networks wanted.
And the reason the games lack energy is due to the fact that players have none. Players are only getting a maximum of three days off after taking a physical pounding. And coaches must burn more midnight oil than they ever have in order to make a quick turnaround and hope to not get humiliated because of something that was missed in haphazard preparation.
But after showing its disappointment with the NFL Network, the NFL opened the door for another cable channel to cover the best meal ticket to be put on HD. And they even teased the idea of having Netflix, YouTube or another Internet carrier stream the game.
Now you know the moment streaming an NFL game happens, all the AARP card-carrying folks will be incensed. The majority of those folks aren’t savvy in the world of binary code and unless they have a nice neighbor or family member nearby, an entire age group will be lost.
Just think if the Packers play on Thursday right before deer hunting season opens. You can’t tell me that all of the tiny bars and taverns way up north in Wisconsin will be prepared for a streaming NFL game.
I don’t have a problem with the NFL wanting to expand its NFL Network brand. They do a good job with analysis and pre and postgame coverage. However, if the games are stinkers and/or the players and coaches don’t have adequate time to prepare, it doesn’t really give them a lot to talk about.
My recommendation would be to wait until late November. The college football season is nearly over and the high school season is over. Have games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Own the weekend and have Friday and Saturday games on the NFL Network and make sure that there are a few solid games scheduled.
The players and coaches would be happy because they would be getting a few extra days of rest and research. The owners and league would love it because fans would be more amped to watch or attend games on Friday-Sunday as opposed to just an isolated Thursday. And let’s not forget that Thursday is known as the best night for TV with the networks rolling out their heavyweight lineups to show off for the ad executives.
But like your side view mirror, pay-per-view sports are closer than they appear. Granted, the NFL may be sheltered longer due to its overwhelming popularity but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Super Bowl telecast on pay-per-view only because the NFL knows it wouldn’t just grab the two teams’ fans and overall football fans. The Super Bowl gets the Holy Grail of consumers: the casual fan. The person that watches maybe a handful of sporting events a year but relishes in the socializing and entertainment aspect the Super Bowl provides.
I was bummed to give up my Sundays seven years ago for Thursday. Unfortunately, it’s never going to be the same. Putting average games on TV with guys that aren’t getting adequate rest just seems like an unnecessary risk.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn