Slumping NFL Ratings: Make Sundays Great Again


The NFL is experiencing slumping television ratings this season. One way to satisfy the masses and increase ratings is to simply make Sundays great again.

The NFL has been experiencing the unimaginable this season – a decline in ratings. There are numerous ideas as to why the once-invincible NFL has seen a decline. Some say the #BoycottNFL movement brought on by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest is to blame.

Hey, it could be. There are always people out there who are willing to boycott an entire product based on the actions of a few. We saw it with the domestic violence epidemic that hit the NFL a few years earlier. But it’s hard to believe that such a large number of fans were willing to quit a sport the love over a rarely televised, legal, moral, silent protest.

Others say it’s the “wussification” of the NFL that’s turning the fans away. Some NFL purists see the initiatives to protect QBs, defenseless receivers, and human brains from catastrophic hits, as a bad thing. I’m not sure I’m buying that because where are those fans really going to go? Australian Rules football? People may not like the evolving safety measures but there just isn’t a decent substitute sport on the market.

All of these seem like valid reasons for slumping ratings but I’m just not sure they are THE reason. What I do know is that if the NFL wants to revive the sport, excite the fanbase, and get back to where it once was, then the NFL needs to Make Sundays Great Again.

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Not too long ago the NFL was principally played on Sunday afternoons. Sure, there was Sunday Night football on ESPN and Monday Night Football on ABC, but the average team played on Sunday afternoon.

There was a feeling in the air on those autumn Sunday afternoons. 90 percent of the games were played in a six hour window. It was a time to rush home from church, to plan the meal around, and to gather with family and friends in an almost ritualistic manner.

I’m not saying Thursday Night Football (TNF) killed that, but Thursday Night Football freakin’ killed that. TNF began in 2006 with five late season games. Starting on Thanksgiving, TNF was a way to involve more teams in the holiday tradition of Turkey Day football, and line the NFL pockets along the way.

It wasn’t long before the NFL realized they could do this for an entire season. So TNF was expanded to an entire season of football and the over-saturation of the market commenced. Now we have football on Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, and later in the season, on Saturday.

At face value, it seemed like a great idea. NFL football is awesome. More NFL Football is awesome-er. But it did something. It screwed up Sundays. It took the “special” out of the greatest sport in the world.

Accessibility is one thing. Blackout rules and ability to get Sunday Ticket were extremely frustrating and if you were an out-of-state college kid like me, you made the local sports bar part of your Sunday tradition.

But instead of just making the games we wanted to watch, more accessible, it drowned us in the unwanted. Pretty soon we had to start setting our fantasy football lineups on Thursday afternoon, making us prognosticators of Sunday’s injury report more than prognosticators of performance.

Now, instead of just assuming your team is playing on Sunday afternoon like we used to, we’re constantly checking the NFL schedule in order to plan our week. Monday Night Football used to be special as well. It was primetime, baby. It’s what we all treated as sacred. But with so many non-Sunday afternoon games available now, Monday Night Football lost its mystic.

Want to fix everything? Make Sundays great again.

Scrap Thursday Night Football forever. In fact, take Sunday night too as focus on the basics. Monday Night Football can stay and Saturday football for playoffs only.

Then fix the accessibility and allow fans to watch the games they actually want to watch and not just what their local market decides. Even if that means paying a la cart, at least we have a choice without forking over the full amount for the entire package.

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Saturation is killing the NFL and the best way to fix it is to make Sundays great again. We do that by moving all the games but one back to the day and time that it belongs – Sunday afternoon.