As some of you know right before The “Big Game” I made a case based on my own observations and anecdotes that if I were to bet on anything, I would bet on the over/under of the TV ratings of the event. My prediction? ” Total ratings disaster.” The actual?
“Fox Television’s broadcast of Super Bowl LI on Sunday night drew 111.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data released by the network on Monday, the smallest audience for the National Football League’s title game in four years.”
“Disaster?” Depends on how one wants to interpret it. From a business perspective (which is how I view things) I’m going to stick with yes. Why? Two reasons. First:
Every year the cost to advertisers increases, and you have to justify those increases with hard data results. The hard data now shows – they paid up – for 2012/2013 metrics.
Four years of ever-increasing viewership along with pricing as to be exposed to that audience, and not only couldn’t the same audience of last year be held, but (and it’s a very big but) they didn’t even hold the audience of 3 prior. That’s a problem, and a very BIG problem if you’re in the ads business. And the NFL™ is.
Second: You had a scenario which should have drawn viewers in. Say what you want: but the story, narrative, and rivalry about one team against the odds (remember Brady didn’t play the first 4 games) and the NFL brass in particular, along with the possibility of Brady winning a never before in history 5th championship. An event that is a once in a lifetime, must see event for most fans. And even then couldn’t hold, let alone attract, the same audience as even the year prior?
That’s another very, very, very (did I say very?) BIG problem. Never-mind any increasing. Why?
Think of it this way: Had the ratings, at the least, came in on par with last years? The NFL along with most other sports shows could possibly (and I use that term loosely) have breathed a sigh-of-relief, and pointed to when it comes to “the sport” or “the brand”, that maybe there hadn’t been as much damage done as what the viewership numbers over the season had portended. Never forgetting this past year ratings across the entire season have been just that – a disaster.
For if the “Big Game” held its audience, or better yet, increased, maybe all that would be needed or addressed over the off-season would be some tinkering around the edges for toning down a lot of the political rhetoric now emanating at a near unstoppable, as well as overwhelming pace, which has nothing to do with the game, let alone sports.
This results adds the dot-of-the-i, or the crossing-of-t’s not only for the NFL, but for sports broadcasting in general that: It’s turning off its audience. And they are doing the same – literally.
I have a feeling the 2017/2018 ad-season for the entire sports media complex is going to meet its own version of “deflate-gate.”
And just a note for those of you thinking I’m trying to be coy with using “The Big Game” as opposed to its real title. It’s because unless you have explicit consent via the NFL – you can’t use it. (Reuters does) And if you do? They’ll come after you with legal action. And as you know I respect trademarks to a fault. (e.g., which is why you see ™ throughout my writings.)
That said, if I were asked to advise both the NFL, along with the entire sports complex, unlike most other “consultants” or “business gurus” that would require; a team of people; stacks of presentation folders; 5 hour slide show presentations; and heaven knows what else. I would probably just walk in, and make only one statement. And it would be this…
“If this past season is to be any guide? Better focus more, as to the exclusion of all else, on the sport aspects of the game – rather than anything remotely political. Otherwise? You may find you’ll have more eyes looking for trademark infringements – than there are actual viewers watching your trademarked content.”
And for those of you silently wondering the answer is: yes. My fee would still remain about the same as the above consulting scenario. With one difference…
It would be actionable, too the point, and show a return on investment with near immediacy, if correct. And that’s what serious people should be paying for: results over theater.
© 2017 Mark St.Cyr