If you are one of those people who hates when an NFL game goes to a commercial break after a touchdown only to see a touchback on the ensuing kickoff lead to another series of commercials, get in line to join the club. I’m in there too. So is Roger Goodell.
Of course, the difference between us and Goodell is that we haven’t been profiting off of all those commercials, so evidently it took the league a ratings scare over the course of the past season in order for them to finally take action on addressing some of the very real watchability aspects of the average football broadcast.
You may have read or seen many stories over the course of the 2016 season about how the league’s ratings were down by x amount compared to the year before or some more distant range, drawing week-to-week comparisons that almost always saw the present lose out to the past.
At the very least, you can give the league credit for being quickly proactive about the issue, although that credit only extended so far when given the reality that the decision to take action at this point is merely an effort to prevent financial stagnation and not altruistically for the benefit of an improved viewing experience for those who would be watching anyway.
The commissioner spoke about some of these issues recently, saying that the league and its broadcast partners “will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks”, adding that “we will be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action”.
One can certainly make an argument for the case that the league had grown complacent in its seemingly annual steady growth. The sudden aberration in that trend last season shook themselves out of that complacency and made them realize, at least I hope, once again that they have a responsibility to deliver a quality product, and continued growth also means continued improvement.
I would be lying if I said I cared what the motivation was for the league deciding to cut down on the number of commercials during an NFL broadcast, and I’m sure the same can be said for the majority of those who watch the games and have to sit through the same commercials.
There are other changes to the average NFL broadcast coming as well, or at least in discussions to be had very shortly, though Goodell’s words send a more concrete message than they are actually prepared to deliver just yet.
He wrote that broadcasts are going to focus less on “elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field” and that it will be replaced with “analysis, highlights, or stories about our players”. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out come the fall.