Former NFL coach and colour commentator John Madden thinks there is a simple reason why the NFL’s TV ratings are down this year: there aren’t enough good teams.
On a podcast with the Bay Area News Group, Madden said that to have great games, there needs to be two good teams playing each other and there just aren’t enough good teams.
And, like Mark Cuban once predicted, he believes the NFL has spread itself too thin with Thursday night games, Sunday afternoon and night games, and Monday night games.
“What’s happens is there are not a lot of good teams, and they have too many windows to put these games in,” Madden said. “When you think of an early Sunday window, a late Sunday window, a Sunday night window, a Monday night window, a Thursday night window. They all want good games, and there’s not enough good teams.”
He continued, saying the Thursday night games, in particular, are a problem:
“Just look at the list of teams playing. It takes two. It’s not just one good team. You have to have two to have a great game, and there’s not a lot of great games. And we’re spreading it out more and more with fewer good teams, which makes it doggone impossible to have good games. If the games aren’t good, that’s part of it. Now there are other things: the Millennials, iPhone, and the stuff people do as they live differently.
“Something has to be done about Thursday night football. It just doesn’t work. It’s not only a fan thing, it’s a team thing. It’s a safety thing. It’s a competitive thing. It doesn’t work. I know about money, and I know about business. Maybe you have to tweak stuff a little more. To help teams, maybe you get a bye the week before.”
Madden pointed to the Washington Redskins, who played Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers, then had to travel to Dallas to play the Thursday night game against the Cowboys. Madden called that a scheduling “oops,” saying older players need more time to recover.
This year, the NFL blamed its poor TV ratings on the election, saying it was distracting viewers. In the weeks since the election ended, the NFL has seen a slight uptick in ratings, but likely not enough to draw any definitive conclusions.
Going forward, if ratings continue to trend downward, people will begin to wonder if there is an overall problem with the quality of the play in the NFL and if there are simply too many windows to fill.
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