Thursday , 26 May 2022

The NFL Has Entered Decline Phase – Here’s Why

As the chart below shows, viewership in the NFL has been sliding for years across the entire demographic spectrum so it begs the question: How will the owners and managers of the multi-billion-dollar NFL empire handle the league’s decline phase?

The original article by Charles Hugh Smith has been edited for length (…) and clarity ([ ]) by to provide a fast & easy read. For all the latest – and best – financial articles sign up (in the top right corner) for your free bi-weekly Market Intelligence Report newsletter (see sample here) or visit our Facebook page.

The problem for the NFL is two-fold: The number of young people who are dedicated NFL viewers

  1. is modest and, even worse,
  2. is declining at a fast clip…

Anecdotally, I don’t know a single Millennial who has any interest in:

  • sitting through a 2-hour pro football game at home or
  • ponying up the big bucks and spending such a huge chunk of time required to attend a game.

Again, anecdotally, young people seem more likely to:

  • watch a short clip of the game’s highlights on You Tube than devote 2+ hours to sitting through endless annoying TV adverts for a few moments of action,
  • invest their sports-related time and money in college or local sports and,
  • if they’re parents, their time may be devoted to their kids’ sports activities.

In other words, pro football is an interest of the older generations that isn’t shared by the younger generations. 

We can chart this progression with an S-curve, which in the case of the NFL, is marked by the “boost phase” of viewership in the 1970s and 1980s as Monday Night Football expanded the TV audience and the league added franchises. The league reached a maximum audience some years ago, and has now entered the decline phase.

The NFL’s troubles run even deeper than demographics:

  1. its fan base is being pressured financially
  2. while the cost of attending a game keeps rising…

Just in case the NFL didn’t notice, 95% of the populace is experiencing stagnating wages and rising costs of essentials, leaving less and less to blow on luxuries such as NFL games…

Spending is correlated to income, naturally enough. Most of the “recovery” is the result of soaring discretionary spending by the top 5%, not the modest spending that is affordable to the bottom 95%. That means that the advertisers spending big bucks to advertise on NFL TV games are reaching an audience with diminishing cash or credit to spend.

Lastly, the NFL has reached the point of over-saturation. Monday Night Football was an innovation in 1970, but who has time or interest for Thursday night football, Saturday afternoon football, etc.?…

[To repeat?] How will the owners and managers of the multi-billion-dollar NFL empire handle the league’s decline phase?

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One comment

  1. Thank you for this article because it explains the moral and ethical necrosis that the NFL Franchise has been suffering. I saw the outward manifestations. This article saw the disease. People wondered why Justin Timberlake had to expose Janet Jackson’s breast, why the half time show was getting more sexualized, why the players receiving hundreds of millions of dollar contracts where politicizing the game with anti-American, anti-white, anti-cop protest. Why? THE FATE OF SPORTS RESTS ON THE FAMILY. THE FAMILY WATCHES ON TV OR CABLE, THE FAMILY BUYS TICKETS TO SEE THE GAME, THE FAMILY HAS TAIL GATE PARTIES IN THE PARKING LOT. KIDS LEARN TO LOVE THE GAME AS WELL AS THE SOCIAL EVENT SURROUNDING THE GAME. The NFL isn’t a bunch of single people watching the golden girls.

    The NFL may get a ratings hit from sexualization or protestation but its short lived and the downside is that parents get turned off and kids get turned off. It stops being a sport and just becomes a media event. ALL MEDIA EVENTS GO OUT OF STYLE. THEY EXPLOIT CONTROVERSY AND THEN BURN OUT.

    It doesn’t matter whether this was the NFL owners looking for a ratings boost and a money grab or whether the (the owners) just turned their backs to whatever singing/performing artist or marginal/failing athlete (kapernick) wanted to grab a headline. The key point is that the NFL owners had to keep raising the volume to get the same ratings hit until the controversy overshadowed the game. At which point, people divided into sides. Those who bought into the controversy grew tired and moved onto the next controversy. Those who hated the controversy left the NFL because it was no lover about the game and didn’t reflect their values.

    Anyone who remembers Baseball’s darkest days, when the world series was found to be rigged for sports betting. The sport (baseball) was devastated because it no longer represented the family values that made it beloved and welcomed into the home. Ever since those darkest days of baseball, baseball has stayed true to itself as an all American, pro-American, family sport with peanuts, popcorn and cracker jacks. Baseball doesn’t over pay its players (neither does Hockey or Soccer in the US), it doesn’t politicize the game with protest and it doesn’t sexualize the game. There are no cheap temporary fixes to spike ratings and ticket prices in Baseball. Its one reason why Baseball is more stable than Basketball and the NFL.

    Trump and Jones were/are right! Politics, Protest and Sex need to be purged from the NFL. NFL Salaries must be cut to reflect the market value of the sport. Avoid media spectacles and controversy. Focus on rebuilding the game.

    PS: If you remember Hollywoods failing days trying to survive against TV. Hollywood moguls tried to be everything TV couldn’t not. Hollywood went full tilt reality, full tilt sex (borderline pornography), full tilt violence and fetish and horror and every immorality they could get a movie released under an “R” rating. Movie Stars commanded ever increasing salaries with marginal talent, bad scripts and stories and gobs of hype that would make golden age movie stars heads spin in envy. The result: people have been turning away from movies (except those where there is little acting and the majority of the movie is special effects) for decades….and now with politically correct women, transgender and gay characters thrown without having any value to the story…like some wet toilet paper thrown and stuck to the bathroom wall….people are again walking away from Hollywood.

    My point: Its the same recipe. Its the same temporary fix. It has the same permanent failures whether its Hollywood or sports or fake news journalism