Seemingly, the big football league believes it has covered all bases now, making a recent deal for early round January 2021 “wildcard” playoff game with Amazon Prime Video. This adds to the airing of that playoff game on CBS and Nickelodeon.
Figure it this way, the NFL has now covered 60+ mostly male viewers (CBS), kids 2-11 viewers (Nickelodeon) and young, digitally minded viewers (Amazon Prime Video).
If that isn’t all, due to rescheduling COVID-19 issues, CBS recently aired a game Monday night. And, no, don’t call this "Monday Night Football." That is still ESPN’s thing. If that wasn’t enough, this past week, CBS had another game on Tuesday night because of rescheduling issues. No, not "Tuesday Night Football" just yet.
Why the sudden change in adding Amazon? The league isn’t saying. But we wonder if the NFL sees some viewer erosion --- beyond any typical downtrends affecting live, linear TV networks.
There is also some bucks at stake. That early round "wildcard" game cost CBS Sports $75 million -- which includes CBS streaming rights. Now Amazon has pick up this game, also for streaming. (What!)
Every TV franchise wants to expand its footprint. But it does so where consumers don’t get worn out, by adding too much of a good thing.
Through the season so far, there has been a 11% viewership decline in the NFL regular season games. Good news is that is still much better than the 30% to 50% viewing declines for regular and post-season competition from NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and PGA Golf.
Blame here could go to major U.S sports franchises cannibalizing each other as all returned to action at virtually the exact same time. Though not every sport has been in a head-to-head competition with other sports, figure viewers are weary -- coupled with the backdrop of no fans in the stands, shorter schedules and other major changes.
Does this have a faux feel -- a sports exhibition or sorts? Should we put an asterisk on all of this?
For its part, NFL has kept intact much of what viewers expect. Teams play in their same stadiums as they have in the past. No bubbles here. A number of NFL teams allows a small percentage of fans in stands.
Lesson learned: TV viewers want the familiar. If not, expect some to sit on the sidelines until things feel “normal.” Until then, I’ll wait for “Wednesday Morning NFL Football.”