In the words of the mafia, it's time to face facts, Jack. After years of being so dominant and seemingly untouchable, the NFL's TV ratings have plummeted in 2016 whether due to poor competition, different ways to watch the game, or maybe just because there's too much football on. The great pillar that was the NFL's ratings may, believe it or not, be collapsing upon itself.
At the Fall League Meetings in Houston, NFL.com reported that commissioner Roger Goodell took to the podium like a president on the brink of war and gave his thoughts on the shield's latest battle: the one for views.
"It's something that I don't think there's a single reason for. I really don't. We look at all those factors. Everyone's got theories, you guys got theories, others got theories. We work closely with our network partners. We see tremendous strength in our numbers. But we also know that the prime time ratings we're seeing the most dramatic decrease. It went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our prime time games on Thursday night was on the NFL Network, as opposed to a network, which will always get a lower rating. There are a lot of factors to be considered. We don't make excuses, we look at it and we try and figure out what's changing."
It's interesting how Goodell claims they don't make excuses when it comes to TV ratings, but he does about everything else from domestic violence to penalties. Neat.
Well, we can probably expect one of Goodell's favorite people in the sports media business, Bill Simmons, to comment on the league's TV ratings sooner or later. Hopefully, it will be sooner, as HBO sent out an email earlier this week confirming that two of the heavy hitters for NBC's football coverage will be joining the lifelong Patriot fan on October 19's episode of Any Given Wednesday.
"Guests include network sports broadcasters and authors Bob Costas and Al Michaels and rapper/comedian Vince Staples."
Either it's the way the picture was taken, or Simmons, who stands at six-foot-two, is absolutely towering over both Costas and Michaels in that picture. Knowing Simmons, putting the over/under of how many times the host takes a subliminal shot at Goodell for the TV ratings -- if they go that route -- has to be around four or five, right?
With all due respect to Costas and Staples, I'm really excited to see Al Michaels, who once was an occasional target in Simmons' ESPN NBA columns, talk with the HBO star about the NFL. Having joined NBC in 2006 in a trade for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (that's not a joke, either, as former ESPN president George Bodenheimer re-examined in his 2015 book Every Town is a Sports Town), the Brooklyn-born Michaels is in his 11th year with the Peacock after spending 1977-2006 with ABC Sports.
The voice of both Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, Michaels has called each of the three Super Bowls NBC has had since taking over the Sunday Night package -- Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, the semi-rematch in Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, and Super Bowl XLIX between the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Michaels also called six Super Bowls with ABC, including Super Bowl XXV between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.
Michaels, to his credit, has always had a good sense of humor about being traded for a cartoon character, remarking at one point, "Oswald is definitely worth more than a fourth-round draft choice. I'm going to be a trivia answer someday."
Any Given Wednesday will look to build off the fantastic showing October 5's episode did, where they had 267,000 viewers - the highest since July 6's episode with Chris Bosh, Joe Rogan, and Anthony Anderson. Other HBO playdates include October 20 (noon, 12:45 a.m.), 21 (9:15 a.m., 11:30 p.m.), and 23 (9:30 a.m.), while HBO2 playdates are currently scheduled for October 19 (11 p.m.), 20 (9:20 a.m.), 22 (10:45 a.m.), 24 (2:20 a.m.), and 25 (1 a.m.).
Any Given Wednesday is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand, as well as other affiliate portals.
[Featured Image by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]