Friday, September 12, 2014

Remote Poses Remote Danger to the NFL

Didn't watch the Ravens and Bengals on CBS last night. This wasn't a protest by a good and concerned citizen, a boycott to show my outrage at the NFL's inhumane corruption made evident by the Ray Rice case. If immorality and corruption REALLY bothered fans, there wouldn't be any professional sports on earth. I just wasn't that interested.

Aside from the franchise's ethical failure with Rice, what about the Ravens should interest people outside of greater Baltimore? The Steelers don't even have scandal going for them. It has been clear since the first day of training camp that the probability is over 95 percent that each team will muddle along in the middle of the parity pack all season, the Ravens having a decent chance at making the playoffs and losing in the first round and the Steelers an excellent chance of going 7-9 or worse. Clicking on the game to see the score was 10-3 at the half, my prior lack of interest was vindicated and I went to bed a smug and happy man.

Did I find some rewarding cultural or family activity to replace football? Does 10 minutes of reading Patricia Welles' latest food and restaurant guide to Paris and daydreaming of being rich and living there count? No? OK, then, the rest of the time I let my philistine bad self roll and watched TV.

What did I watch instead of the game? Well, like most bored American males my age, I sampled the video buffet by dial-twitching. I caught a few innings of Andy Cobb's no-hit bid for the Rays against the Yanks, missing one hell of a comeback by signing off when Cobb gave up his first hit. I watched the Stonecutters episode of  "The Simpsons" on FXX. In what should give Les Moonves pause, I even tuned in to a "The Big Bang Theory" rerun, the program CBS has shifted to Monday nights to make room for the stylings of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. All in all, a pretty normal night for the tube.

There's the rub for the NFL right there, the word normal. I am a devout and lifelong pro football fan. Check this blog, which in seven years has a majority, a significant one, of NFL-related posts. On a normal night of TV, said fan found a normal early season game between two normal (in football terms) teams something he could easily miss because there were other programs providing better diversion. The teams I follow (the Eagles as a fan, the Patriots through semi-professional interest) weren't playing. No big stars to monitor. I don't play fantasy football, but I hope and pray those who do weren't so silly as to have too many Ravens and Steelers on their rosters. What CBS has spent all summer touting as the ultimate in Event viewing was just another show.

And as with most shows in the 5000 channel, 500 platform media universe, if you miss it, you can always catch it later. It's not as if I still don't have the opportunity to gorge myself on the NFL and football in general until my eyeballs bleed in Week Two of the pro season. There will be 10 hours of NFL games on Sunday, three on Monday night, and roughly 14 hours of college games shown Saturday. I will watch the Pats and Eagles games for sure, and likely sample other NFL and college fare in the other broadcast windows -- unless there's something better on.

That's part of the theoretic rub I posed for the NFL as well.. Last night my name was Overexposure. I was the embodiment of the  catastrophe Mark Cuban has forecast for the league, a threat to its entire business model.

In a column in the Globe years ago, Leigh Montvillle gave the best description of how the NFL works I have ever read or heard. Paraphrasing from memory, Leigh said that the NFL became and stays rich because it has somehow convinced customers that all its games were equally important, or at least equally interesting. It thrives because Patriots fans can and do tune in to see the Packers play the Panthers too, as opposed to baseball, where even in the playoffs fans watch the home team and nobody else.

Last night this football fan treated Steelers-Bengals as if it were, gasp, a baseball game. My teams weren't involved, I found no other reason (what's the equivalent of a no-hitter?) to care, so I didn't. There will be other games to watch, lots of them. Too many maybe.

Watching the NFL on Sundays is a habit I'll never break. Watching the NFL on Monday nights is no longer a habit. Watching the NFL on Thursdays is a habit I have yet to take up, and I already declined the first free hit offered by my network pusher.

Anecdotes are not data. Without a hint of evidence, I'll bet the ratings for Bengals-Steelers were all CBS and the NFL desired and more, much more due to the Scandal Factor. I'm hardly in the demographic each is seeking anyway, being too old to waste my remaining time on earth drinking light beer or eating franchise pizza.

In a nation of 310 million people, however if one person thinks, feels or does something, other people thought, felt or did the same thing. I was in a minority of football fans last night, probably a tiny one, but I wasn't alone.

 Watching the NFL on Sundays is a habit I'll never break. Watching the NFL on Monday nights is no longer a habit. Watching the NFL on Thursdays is a habit I have yet to take up, and I already declined the first free hit offered by my network pusher.

Next Thursday night's game is the Bucs at the Falcons. I give the "Simpsons" a better than even money shot at offering up a more engrossing rerun.


Post a Comment

<< Home