The general rule for TV ratings is the NFL is King. Regular season NFL games are almost always higher rated TV broadcasts than MLB post season games, and even NFL pre-season games generally out rate MLB regular season games. For the most part once the leaves start to change colors each fall, the NFL becomes the strongest TV property going. This past weekend that changed a little. Game six of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim scored an 11.4 overnight rating, compared to a 10.4 rating for NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Arizona Cardinals versus the New York Giants.
For those not in the know a 1.4 rating means 11.4% of the TV’s in the top 56 television markets were tuned into the Yankees game. Since the NFL generally doesn’t try to compete with the World Series there will be no Sunday Night game in Week eight, so the MLB can enjoy this TV victory for a while.
For those in the League offices of the NFL, and the leaders of the NFL players union this is an indication that should the NFL suffer from a work stoppage, sports fans have many other options they will turn too. In the fall sports fans are almost over loaded with TV viewing choices. We have the start of the NBA, and the NHL. College football is in full sing, the NASCAR playoffs, not to mention the MLB playoffs. Added to that this year is the play in a new football league, the UFL.
If the NFL is arrogant enough to think these fans will suffer through a work stoppage, and come back in drives, they are kidding themselves. Given the current Sport TV landscape a prolonged NFL work stoppage could due the NFL serious long term harm. Beyond the fact of sending pro football TV fans over to a new rival league, they may just tune out and watch other sports all together.