The NFL’s TV ratings have been plummeting lately. Some people blame it on the National Anthem protests by Colin Kaepernick and other players, but I think the problem is much deeper than just that. There are several things I think the NFL needs to do in order to bring its ratings back. I have listed them below.
1) Eliminate the Sunday night and Thursday night games. The NFL currently plays too many primetime games. With the exception of the traditional Monday night game, NFL games belong on Sunday afternoons. The only time football should be played on a Thursday is on Thanksgiving Day. NBC’s Sunday night game could simply be moved to 4:35 on Sunday afternoon to give fans an extra double-header game each week.
2) Cut down on the penalties. They interfere with the flow and continuity of the game, and slow it down too much. Loosen the rules to eradicate some of the holding and illegal block-in-the-back calls, which are so common in most games. The same goes for a lot of the ticky-tack pass interference and personal foul calls. Besides, fans hate seeing so many games decided by penalties.
3) Get the politics and extracurricular activity out of the game. People attend the games and watch them on TV to escape the harshness and gritty realities of the world. Players who make political comments, gestures, or demonstrations on the field should be fined but their teams should not penalized. Pre-game and halftime performers who do this should never be invited to perform at any game again. In addition, the NFL should stick to football and avoid taking stands on anything (political or otherwise), even for good causes, such as fighting breast cancer.
4) Cut down on the number of commercial breaks. They are killing the game by causing people to switch channels and possibly never tuning back in. I hate it when, for example, they come back from a commercial break after a score to show the subsequent kickoff and then immediately break for more commercials. I know it seems counterintuitive to say that fewer commercials might be one of the keys to stabilizing the NFL’s TV revenue. But if doing so causes the ratings to go back up, then the networks could simply charge more per individual ad to make up the difference.
5) Get in more plays per game. Too much time ticks off the game clock while players are just standing around and/or huddling up. One resolution would be to decrease the play clock from 40 seconds to 35 seconds. This would also quicken the pace of the games. With their helmet microphones and other sophisticated means of communicating the plays from the coaches to the players, 35 seconds should be ample time to set up a play.