After the chat that Nat Coombs, Phil Spooner and Paolo Bandini had on the Nat Coombs show on talksport2 this week I had a thought about how I view the NFL action each and every weekend, and how this has changed over the time I’ve been watching the game.
For me personally, I grew up in the 90s with the Channel 4 and later channel 5 coverage, my dad used to record the C4 matches and we used to watch them the following day, now, I was about 10 years old at the time (explains why I chose the Bengals as I liked Tigers and they had Tiger helmets…), so my memories might not be 100% accurate, but i’m sure there were short highlight packages as well, and that was about it for us over this side of the pond, I used to watch Transworldsports at some ungodly hour of the morning on channel 4 as well which had bits of every sport on the earth, occasionally had a little on the NFL as well.
While at Uni Channel 5 picked up a lot of the american sports coverage and caused me many a late night watching the NFL, NHL (despite it being near impossible to track the puck on the fuzzy analogue signal back then), even bloody baseball on the odd occasion. I was working in a bar/club so had quite a few 3am finishes and needed to wind down…
But it’s only now i’m a full grown adult with my own place that I’ve gone full on nerd with the NFL and watch as much as I can without getting into trouble with the wife, happy wife, happy life right?! That was part of the reason I set up this site, a) to win some money and hopefully help some others do that, and get some of my thoughts down for history and b) so that if she ever feels like moaning about me having the TV from 6pm every Sunday night, I just say it’s for work. It actually does work.
If you’re new to it all, and aren’t aware of redzone. It’s amazing. Basically it shows you the action from any game that’s within the redzone (20 yards from the endzone) if there’s more than one, they’ll go double screen and focus on the one that’s nearest to action. On the odd occasion you’ll get the wonder of QUAD BOXXXXX… Is 4 games at once a little overwhelming? Maybe, but Scott Hansen does a great job of hosting it all and keeping up with all the antics that go on. If you miss a TD anywhere, say someone breaks off a 70 yard run, they’ll quickly show you that action.
So my usual Sunday during football season is settling down after cooking Sunday lunch (brownie points aren’t essential, but always help) had a few beers while cooking usually with Super Sunday on in the background, get comfy on the sofa and put on Redzone (which for now doesn’t require a skysports package as it’s free on SkySportsMix) And that’s me for 3 and a half hours. I’ll be on my phone, checking fantasy scoring in my various leagues, and obviously it’s by far the easiest way to keep an eye on my bets! Last season I was tipping 10+ things on a Sunday, usually TD scorers and yardage bets, and using the fantasy app, twitter of course, an nfl scores app and redzone is the best way to keep an eye on who’s doing what for me and how much money i’m (hopefully) bringing in.
For the later games, I generally go with how good the games are, as there’s usually only 4 games on Redzone becomes a bit less interesting, and they’ll generally show a lot of the main game anyway, but if it’s say GB v Seattle (which I think it is week 1) I’ll be watching the main game and setting notifications on my app for the other games that are on in that time slot.
Obviously the caveat for my Sunday nights is whether the Bengals are on or not, if they’re the televised game then unsurprisingly i’ll have that game on and keep an eye on other things on my phone. This season could be a little different for me as I finally ditched skysports (although they’re apparently going to be changing their packages which might make it more affordable) and i’m giving Kodi a go, on the recommendation of a follower on twitter. We’ll see how it goes! I am fully open to paying for Gamepass if Kodi isn’t up to what I want, I had the free trial of it earlier this year and it was brilliant. The ability to watch the condensed games seems like a game changer for me, especially if I want to expand the site and keep it relevant and I know from the quick poll I just put out that a lot of the guys who follow me on there use gamepass as well so it can’t be too bad!
There was a lot of chatter in the states of the viewing figures falling, and that seemed to spook the league a little and created quite a lot of press. They still beat every other sport by quite a long way and obviously the Superbowl had a ridiculous amount of viewers which it always will. There were a few reasons listed for the downturn last year, the main one seemed to be the Election campaigns (good work America) some of which were done on a Sunday afternoon, so they took away a few viewers in the states. Second reason given by people in the states is the over-saturation of the game. The Thursday night games aren’t usually very good, they were down 25% on the year before, and they don’t start too well this year. I can’t imagine too many other than fans turning on for a repeat of the 12-10 Texans win over the Bengals last Christmas (Yes I will be watching it)
The main reason in my eyes is just the way people “consume content” (I hate that phrase.) Everyone is still following the games, they just don’t sit and watch the full 3-4 hours like they used to. Redzone is a big factor in the downturn of the viewing figures. People these days (I include myself) just don’t have the attention span to watch a full game, if you’ve got 8 concurrent games that you can keep an eye on you get all the action, all of the time. The success of the Redzone product is ironically probably contributing to the downturn of the presentations of the games as a whole. I also believe the rise of Fantasy football is a factor as well, if you’ve got no real team affiliation then why would you watch the main game when you can have Redzone and (hopefully) watch action from guys on your team. Then you’ve got Twitter and streaming on android boxes etc… None of these count towards viewing figures. In fairness TV viewing figures as a means for measuring the interest in the game are probably now an out-dated system, but it’s important to advertisers which are very important to the NFL.
Out of interest I did have a quick google for viewing figures in the UK and found this thread on NFLUK http://forum.nfluk.com/showthread.php?t=109229 which gives a week by week breakdown of the figures from last season. Seems to suggest that the early full games get around 50,000 and Redzone about half of that for the full 6 hours, which is pretty impressive. There’s a few comments in there which echo what I’ve written here about attention spans, fantasy football etc…
I do agree though that with redzone you obviously don’t really watch the game, you miss the little nuances of it, the ebb and flow, the game changing 3rd and 1 stop which turns the tide. All are ignored and replaced by the scoring plays (although in fairness they will show turnovers on redzone as well) Basically if you want to watch proper football then watch the full games, if you have no rooting interest in the teams playing and want to keep track of your fantasy team and your bets, then Redzone is indeed the greatest thing ever.