Judging TV And The NFL

Watch TV and judge the judges. Now do the same with the NFL.

You might be upset about your favorite potential singer being judged "out" of a competition on "American Idol" or "The Voice."  Perhaps your favorite dancer had to leave "Dancing with the Stars"  or "So You Think You Can Dance?"  Do you have a choice? Sure, change the channel.

Now we come to football and the NFL -- one of the earliest and biggest reality competition TV franchises. Here we have had replacement judges for the first three weeks of the season -- because of a work-contract issue with the real referees.

All isn't going well.  Many blown calls have happened since the season began -- and then, on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," it seemed that Green Bay Packers’ M.D. Jennings had intercepted a pass in the endzone as time ran out, giving a win to the Packers over the Seattle Seahawks. But the NFL judges ruled that Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had caught the pass – so Seattle won the game.



We haven't heard about any "blown" calls in TV reality competitions, where, even when judges make the worst decisions, viewers seem to forgive and forget and keep moving.

But what about multiple infractions and their effect on the NFL? People say the NFL brand, the "shield," is being hurt. No, not yet. It hasn't hit anyone's wallet.

The NFL is still be a big deal -- the highest-rated sports TV franchise, and maybe overall TV franchise, and big deal for TV marketers.

NFL may have had some dings -- even a sizable bunch of them -- but the brand doesn't get hurt until fans/TV viewers and TV marketers start shrugging their shoulders with apathy. If ratings drop by 20% this weekend -- you have a problem. The alarm bells would sound.

All of which means the NFL has a long way to go.

Fox's "American Idol" lost ground last year. Some might say those judges were too nice or perhaps too old. Some would say Fox's "The X Factor" went the same route. What happened? They got rid of those refs -- because they were a key part of the content.

NFL referees haven't really been a big part of the "content" of that game. But in the last several weeks they have worked themselves more into the conversation. If that increases, and viewers start gazing into space, only then will the NFL throw a flag.

3 comments about "Judging TV And The NFL".
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  1. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, September 26, 2012 at 12:22 p.m.

    I suspect few, if any, people have money riding on the outcome of American Idol, The Voice, etc. Check the odds in Las Vegas on NFL games, and watch how they adjusted after the Monday Night Fiasco, uh, Football game. In sports, judges and referees should NOT have control over the outcome of any game, period!

  2. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, September 26, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.

    NFL fans should relax. If the replacement refs last an entire season chances are the blown calls will likely be distributed evenly among all teams so it won't really impact the final standings.

  3. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, September 26, 2012 at 4:12 p.m.

    This analysis values the NFL brand strictly by current TV ratings and ad revenue. By those measures, the brand may not be hurt. But its image surely has been negatively affected, and it has hurt the brand tremendously. There is open revolt within the NFL among coaches and players, who ignore certain fines in order to get at the refs. The NFL's media partners, in order to ensure their own credibility, have opened their floodgates of criticism of the replacement refs. The NFL may be looking at dollars and cents, but are not considering the image repair that will need to be done, based on its goal of winning a labor struggle, rather than ensuring that fans are presented with fair contests, both played and judged at the highest possible level. The arrogance of pro sports owners (that's you Jerry Jones - and others), helps direct this approach that damages the image of the game and fans' trust in fairness. Major League Baseball used to be a big deal. Constant labor strife, among other issues, helped the NFL to surpass it. The surest way to devalue a brand is to slowly erode confidence and change its proposition. This change often happens so slowly that people are not aware it is happening, until it's too late.

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