Is Overexposure to Blame for NFL’s Lower Ratings?

Viewership is down and network executives think broadcasting too many games is the reason.

Packers receiver Greg Jennings straight arms Seahawks linebacker Kevin Bentley during a snowy Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 2006. (Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Packers receiver Greg Jennings straight arms Seahawks linebacker Kevin Bentley during a snowy Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 2006. (Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary)
By Cory Gunkel / November 3, 2017 9:29 am

Is there really such a thing as too much football? CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus certainly thinks so. The executive believes the oversaturation of NFL games on television is a cause of the league’s declining ratings over the years.

“I do think it’s clear that adding 10 games to the Thursday night package and two additional Sunday morning London games has clearly diluted the Sunday afternoon packages and affected the ratings,” McManus told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s just simple mathematics.”

It’s an interesting theory, and one that makes much more sense than simply blaming NFL player protests for the downturn in ratings. Ratings for Monday Night Football games are down 5 percent, according to USA Today, while Sunday games have also taken a dip in recent months.

Fox CEO James Murdoch also believes the availability of so many football games on TV in general has led to people tuning out.

“And then they watch a lot more college football games on Saturdays, and then on Sundays, and then on Monday Night Football, etc. It’s a lot,” Murdoch said. “So I do think that preserving the scarcity value of those events and that audience is something that is worth thinking about.”