Sports | September 21, 2017 5:00 am

How the NFL’s Business Model Could Be Behind Its Lackluster Ratings

Teams are suffering from "laziness bred from prosperity" and fans are tuning out.

NFL team New York Giants
Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants in action against the Detroit Lions during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The NFL’s ratings are down and they have no one to blame but themselves, writes SB Nation. According to the site, the NFL is locked into a business model that gives it no reason or incentive to change, despite smaller audiences tuning in.

Basically teams cannot lose under the current league structure, SB Nation explains. Right now, owners split money from the league’s TV deals and other large, consistent, and guaranteed revenue streams. As the league grew, revenue boomed and the teams basically became an attractive investment with a promising return for billionaires. Those billionaires came in and squeezed out every profitable dollar, writes SB Nation, and trimmed waste from the budgets.

Consider Dan Snyder, who claims to be “passionate” about the Washington football franchise on a personal level. But SB Nation notes that he has kept the team in the worst stadium in the league, while nickel-and -dimeing fans for everything on game day. That his team has been consistently mediocre still hasn’t affected his bottom line.

In 2017, the NFL split over $7.8 billion between its 32 teams. At this point, fans attending live games is no longer the main product for teams. In fact, ticket sales make up such a small percentage of league revenue that teams really don’t need to play in front of crowds to be profitable or attractive. (See this past Sunday’s paltry attendance for the Los Angeles Chargers’ debut in their new home city.) So what’s next, asks SB Nation? Maybe eSports, in which New England Patriots Bob Kraft owner just invested $20 million.