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Published: Wed, October 19, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

HERE'S WHY YOU NEED NOT PANIC AFTER SEEING THE DROP IN NFL RATINGS, ACCORDING TO THIS ANALYST

HERE'S WHY YOU NEED NOT PANIC AFTER SEEING THE DROP IN NFL RATINGS, ACCORDING TO THIS ANALYST

While the sudden and significant drop in terms of double digit ratings for NFL - one of the last fool proof sources of broadcast and cable programming to have remained on the television scene, has sent the entire media-related business industry into a spin as investors are beginning to re-think their investments, while bookies are beginning to rethink their betting lines. Top research company MoffattNathanson's analyst Michael Nathanson, however. has warned media investors not to overanalyze the upheavals in data for the past last month and base their decisions on the same and instead try to establish an alternative trend for NFL audience performance rather than re-planning their precious investments.

According to Mr. Nathanson, during the last five years, the NFL ratings (compound annual growth rate basis) have been observed to be rather stable, with very little annual variation. In this regard, a 5 % drop was seen in 2012-13, whereas 7 % drop in ratings was observed in 2014-2015.

This season, however, has seen a considerable and unprecedented decline in ratings, an alarming situation for broadcasters and investors alike. In the past four weeks of this gaming season, ESPNs Monday Night Football has gone down by 17 % in the 18-49 demographic, Sunday Night Football has gone down by 13 %, and CBS' Thursday night game has gone down by 15 % (Interestingly enough though, both CBS and FOX's day time coverage has gone down by only 3 %). Prime-time NFL series Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football have been hit the hardest, with their ratings having gone down by 10 %, 23 %, and 16 %, respectively as opposed to last year, when their ratings saw an increase of 10 %, 23 %, and 1 % respectively.

Nathanson, however, who refuses to believe that this sudden decline in ratings is conclusive, has cited alternative reasons to be the cause. He has stated the election special coverage on account of the ongoing elections to be the main cause of decline in ratings for ESPNs Monday Night Football game on 26 September. He has cited other prime time games to be boring blowouts with tough competitor programs as compared to the previous year. For instance, in comparison to the sold-out game between perennial playoff contenders Pittsburgh and Baltimore that took place on Thursday, October 1, 2005, the Thursday night match on September 29 featured a rather uninteresting match featuring a 2-3 Cincinnati Bangles team easily defeating a rather disoriented 1-4 Miami Dolphins team by a mighty, but very predictable 22-7, as it had absolutely no scope of having anything out of the ordinary whatsoever. He has further advised media investors not to panic and wait out the season to come to base their decisions on a definite conclusion.

Nathanson has, however not refrained from acknowledging the fact that real risks nonetheless do exist for the bigger media companies who have not hesitated to invest billions of dollars to acquire NFL rights. These include larger stakeholders such as Disney/ESPN, CBS Corp, 21st Century Fox, Comcast/NBC Universal and even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, among others. In what is seen as an alarming development, the 2015-2016 season, which included the Summer Olympics, the NFL was accountable for only 19 % of the gross ratings points collectively for networks ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC.

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