Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Things that Piss Me Off: NFL Edition

Thursday Night Football.

Can we make the NFL-N go away?  I'm sure if I had it I'd think differently, but as of right now it seems to be causing more problems than it is worth.  Their exclusive set of games just serve to annoy the hell out me and the vast majority of football loving Americans who do not have this station.  Now this is not a rant about the NFL-N, that is a whole separate beast, but rather a rant about it's Thursday Night games.

Let me first point out that the Thanksgiving Day games are special and accpetable, even the additional one that NFL-N has added that evening.  The games on Saturday once College football is over are cool, the NFL-N broadcasting them not so much.  Saturday is like Monday, a one day shorter week is not too bad.

My gripe is the watering down of the schedule at the end of the season.  Let's face it, out of 13-16 games each week you cannot guarantee that even half will be a compelling match-up on paper or end up competitive.  Those are the two main factors in turning on a game, or at least the factors that will determine if the audience will exceed your ratings average. Second you are causing a legitimate disadvantage to the teams playing.  Having a very short week (teams lose 3 days when playing on thursday) once a season for six teams total is not going to impact the playoff race, but doing it 4-7 times a season will.  Especially when combined with my first point.  The NFL is not dumb, they want people to watch these games so they are going to do their best, within the current TV contract, to get a match-up people will watch.  That means taking teams they think will be in the playoff hunt.  So they actually want to screw with teams trying to make the playoffs!  It's not like Turkey Day at all, where the match-ups are on a rotation to try and give every team a chance to play on that day.

Then this season they have started it two full weeks earlier.  Hooray let's go and make even more games harder to watch.  Let's mess with more teams trying to make the playoffs.  The NFL became a juggernaut because it such a higher percentage of their games were on Network TV as compared to any other team sport.  Now I understand we are in the 21st century and Network TV does not have the power and impact it once did, but it still out draws Cable TV by a considerable margin.  Nevermind a specialty station that not everyone has and not everyone who has Cable or Satelite can even get if they wanted to.  Why is the NHL in such bad shape?  No can find their games on TV beyond their regional cable sports channel.  VS is out there, but even I get it's station number mixed up with Animal Planet.  And I actually watch Animal Planet!  By taking games off the network feed the NFL is hurting it's brand.  People will get to the point that they won't feel the need to see as much football as possible, and that is a dangerous road for the NFL.

So to summarize, Thursday night football sucks because:
There aren't enough good or promising games to begin with.
It's hurts teams trying to make the playoffs.
It hurts the league by allowing people an excuse to not watch a game.  An excuse which never existed before in my lifetime.  (32 years)

We don't need 6 weeks of this crap, we don't even need one.  There isn't even any money in such a narrow focus network, the money is online (See MLB.TV and the money machine that thing is, which they are going to ruin because they too are launching a network).  TV is a medium that is dying, don't start a Network, lock up your online rights and start a subscription based Website.  That is where the money is.  Networks cost too much to start up for what money they can generate.
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