honest answer is a simple one. I’m not sure I know.
I can tell you that the new scheduling the
NFL released for 2012 has me a bit confused about things. Despite
the increase in broadcast hours, I already know that I won’t be
investing significantly more time during any week watching NFL
games than I already do. And yet, I can see where many people
will spend more time watching football each week. (At least one
more game’s worth of time.)
is an interesting trend to watch though, and I believe worthy
of taking note. Because when the league talks about putting a
Super Bowl on an international stage (meaning, perhaps, something
like the big game on an overseas field)… and begins scheduling
games regularly on another day of the week… well, things are bordering
on excessive and potentially dangerous.
with Thursday no longer a special event day, but a regular part
of the schedule, games will be steadily played on three days each
week. And, by the end of the regular season, only Tuesday and
Friday will not have hosted at least one game. (Yup… there are
games planned for a Wednesday and a Saturday.)
when I say that this could be dangerous… here’s the problem: whenever
you have a successful business, and you are creating a business
plan for the future, the fastest way to complete failure is to
ignore the reasons you have been successful.
things first though… we need some history. (At least a little
we go back about thirty years, things wouldn’t look too different
than they do today. 1pm games… 4pm games… Monday Night Football.
Seems very familiar… right?
it thirty years ago, or more (or less)… the NFL avoided Saturday
games during the college football season. And Thursday games were
reserved for Thanksgiving. Again… the odds and ends look and feel
are important elements to understand though… because if they were
taking place today, all of us would normally have access to four
NFL games every week. It would consist of three games out of the
two Sunday time starts, and then Monday night.
scheduling leads to the brilliant success of DirecTV and the NFL
Sunday Ticket. You got three games on Sunday afternoons and that
was it. Toss in football on Mondays, a Thanksgiving Day look at
the Lions, and then the playoffs. There were plenty of games to
was here that America’s Team was made… because the popularity
of Dallas put them on television week after week back then, while
you weren’t as likely to see the St. Louis Cardinals or Seattle
to DirecTV, we now get access to those otherwise excluded games.
Invest a bit over six hours on a Sunday afternoon and see parts
of all the football games being played except for Monday night.
Not too bad a deal. No lack of coverage.
is different though…
this year, a developing and expanding slate of Thursday contests.
DirecTV is charging more and more while in reality delivering
less and less. (Don’t believe me… ok…)
a regular week, the NFL plays 16 games. (32 teams… 16 games.)
If we accept that during the 2011 season there were three games
available on regular network broadcasts for the 1pm and 4pm games…
plus Sunday and Monday night contests… that means last season
slightly over 31% of all NFL games are available without DirecTV.
(5 games per week.)
significant percentage. But is it a significant difference than
the days gone by? Well…
the byes each team gets, some weeks there may only be 14 or 15
games. Plus, this year we have more Thursday night games… broadcast
on the NFL Network, which isn’t exclusive to DirecTV. So now it
isn’t 5 games out of 16 that are available… but quite often 6
out of 14. And that’s almost 43% of a week’s contests.
I love DirecTV. And I thoroughly enjoyed having Sunday Ticket
for several years. But this package became a problem for me in
three interesting ways.
– Remember the Miami Dolphins and hurricanes? In 2005 the weather
came into play when a game against Kansas City was moved up. If
my memory is accurate… when it was moved, I lost that game from
my Sunday Ticket package. Now granted… it was an emergency situation
and completely unpredictable. I understand that. (And I didn’t
“lose” the game… as DirecTV rebroadcast it during the Sunday slate
of games.) I didn’t complain at the time, and I’m not listing
it here to complain now. Instead, I feel it is worth noting because
roughly 6% to 7% of what I had paid for that week was taken away
from me, since I don’t recall it being offered live, and this
was the first time something like this had happened to me since
I had been enjoying the package. Even the so called “flex scheduling”
being used late in each season doesn’t change the live broadcast
of games… it is simply a warning that the unexpected, however
unlikely, is never impossible.
– Yard work. Sundays are a day when I could (and can) get stuff
done outside. Given how my work schedule matches up with friends,
Sunday is normally the only day for group work on things such
as renovating a bathroom or building a shed. Plus I might travel
in the fall or winter. We’re talking about my personal schedule,
and I started finding myself being away from home or otherwise
busy for several Sundays of the NFL season.
– The ground I’ve already covered. DirecTV, which I have, offers
the NFL Network. The Sunday Ticket package price is right around
$300… for the basic subscription. Go ahead… tell me that I can
figure out how to log in with something like a password and my
laptop, so the Sunday Ticket travels with me. Before you do though,
check things out we’ve covered here already… because I explained
that these days more than a third of the weekly game action (and
for half the year, more than 40%) is available pretty much for
we get to the really funny part of the upcoming season. If you
read the article I linked to earlier (here
it is again), you’ll find out that in 2012
the NFL Network plans: “With the exception of a Thanksgiving tripleheader
in Week 12 (Nov. 22), NFL Network will air 13 contests between
Weeks 2 and 15”… which means (hold on, new paragraph)…
have laughed in the past when a commercial for the DirecTV baseball
package, Extra Innings, would come on. (Now offering up to 80
games each week!) Seriously… what person that isn’t a sports professional
has enough time to dedicate to watching that much baseball? Same
idea for NBA League Pass or NHL Center Ice programming. Hey… love
your favorite sport… love your favorite team… but 80-games per
week at 2½ to 3 hours minimum per game is 200 to 240 hours
of baseball each week. (Folks… 200 to 240 hours of baseball a
week… (1) The actual average is two hours and fifty-plus minutes.
(2) There are only 168 hours in a week. I know… I know… you don’t
plan to watch every minute of all those games. Still… you need
to love baseball to invest yourself in that kind of arrangement.)
convert the thought back to football.
loved sitting in front of the television on Sunday around 1pm
with some snacks, a notepad, and the remote. I’d flip between
games to catch certain teams on offense… when one contest was
at halftime and another wasn’t… with teams threatening to score…
and so on. Loved it. Had a ball. And I saw way more of each game
than you might expect to be possible considering I was changing
channels. Those were great afternoons.
I still sit down on Sundays to watch football. Just not as much
need for a remote, since I’ll only be watching at most two games
at one time.
we’re talking about three evenings in addition to those six afternoon
hours. It’s not a Sunday experience… it’s a full-time job. In
years when I’ve been able to make weekly picks, I struggled with
Thursday night games… the writing of the columns including the
research… the delay in getting weekly odds until after the Monday
night game was played. And when we had multiple people making
picks, it was almost impossible to have all the picks by Thursday’s
when it comes to paying for the coverage, the waters are thinning
as well… I’m getting less coverage from what I pay for, and need
to invest more time to see it.
just wondering if I’m missing something.
I will pay attention to several of the Thursday night games. There
will undoubtedly be some contests that I’m going to be upset about
not being able to watch at home now that I don’t pay for the Sunday
Ticket. And I am quite aware there will be an interest level from
the other side though… one of the perfect things about football
was that it had a set time frame that needed my attention. Sundays.
Maybe add in Sunday and Monday evenings. What we’re seeing now
is the first major waves of expansion on that. Changes that truly
swerve off the televised history of the NFL as I know it and into
do wonder if we’re reaching a point of overload… where there’s
too much of a good thing… where the scales are beginning to tip.
And I’m going to place a marker here, in 2012, as the time where
those scales began to move in the wrong direction.