NFL and ESPN Are In Similar Situations, Which Is Still A Good Thing

Ratings may be an issue for ESPN and the NFL, but making money is not.
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Robert Seidman, better known as @SportsTVRatings on Twitter, joined's Jimmy Traina on the latest episode of "Off The Board" to talk about NFL ratings for the 2017 season and the state of ESPN.

Seidman, who has been covering the ratings game for several years, says it's still to early to judge whether the NFL has bounced back from 2016's ratings dip, caused mainly by the circus-like Presidential election.

"My advice always is, if you can wait six, seven, eight weeks into the season, by then the matchups have normalized, the injuries have normalized, closeness of games have normalized, and you can make better year-over-year comparisons," Seidman says.

"This year is really tough" he continued. "First we had Hurricane Irma, which definitely beefed up ratings for cable news and the weather channel by quite a bit. How much of an impact it had on NFL ratings is hard for me to say, but it certainly had some impact. Then the Thursday night football games this year have been on NFL Network, where as last year, they were on CBS in Weeks 2 and 3. And then the Nielsen calendar week is different than the NFL week. The Nielsen week ends on Sunday and the Sunday windows were down 11 percent, but when you add back in Monday Night Football, the ratings windows were up three percent, but that didn't technically count in last week as far as Nielsen was concerned."

While Seidman says we should still wait a few weeks to see how the NFL ratings fare, he was definitive in his summation of ESPN's current state.

"I think the situation is similar for both of them," he said about ESPN and the NFL. "They were juggernauts for a while, and certainly in the case of ESPN, growth has stopped, it's pulled back a little bit. It looks like we may be on the precipice of diminished or stalled growth for the NFL, but they're still the biggest games in town. If I could be 'dying' with as good as a business model ESPN has, getting $7.50 a month or whatever it's getting from households, I wish I had problems like that. It's true that ESPN is not a growth story, so I get the Wall Street analysts not being bullish about the grown of linear television, that makes total sense to me. But that's not the same thing as, you know, 'it's a disaster.'  ESPN is still making a lot of profit. It's not losing money. It's making lots of money. It just used to make more money still."

You can listen to the full podcast below or download it on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.

Seidman joins the show at the 6:45 mark of the show.