Troy Aikman, who with Joe Buck forms FOX's #1 broadcast team, thinks the NFL's reign of sports dominance might soon be coming to an end. At a panel discussion in Los Angeles this is what he had to say about what he believes is the NFL's future.
“I believe, and this is my opinion, that at some point football is not going to be the No. 1 sport. You talk about the ebbs and flows of what’s popular and what’s not. At some point, the TV ratings are not going to be there.”
Much of Aikman's concern deals with the very troubling frequency of concussions and other serious injuries that are direct results of playing football. While there is no doubt that these are very troubling facts, I really have my doubts that audiences will stop tuning in to watch the NFL because of that. I think everyone knows that they are watching a collision sport and there can be serious ramifications.
Aikman had this to say regarding the NFL schedule stretching out to now more frequently include Thursdays and Saturdays.
“At one time, watching football was an event. Monday Night Football was a big event. Now you get football Sunday, you get it Monday, you get it Thursday and, late in the year, you get it on Saturday.
This puzzles me how Aikman somehow sees more NFL coverage as a negative. The NFL is a huge event every time it's on. It will still dominate Sundays and Mondays and I think it's very likely there will be great ratings for the games not on those days as well. There's plenty of games to go around and Sundays are still going be the day where a large segment of the population will still lounge around and watch football for the entirety of the day.
The last three Super Bowls were the most watched events in the history of American television. I think that's a strong indicator that the NFL's popularity is showing zero sign of waning at the moment. Also, the insane popularity of fantasy football has all of a sudden made that Thursday night game between the Seahawks and Bills must watch TV for a much wider audience.
We are also on the eve of the NFL's most ludicrous event of the year, the NFL combine. The NFL Network on Saturday will televise twelve straight hours of the event. This will include critical breakdowns of offensive lineman running 40-yard dashes in spandex and we'll hear the word "wonderlic" a couple hundred times as well. The entire event is insanity. But so many people just want to know these things and they'll be refreshing twitter nonstop and I'm sure it will be one of the more analyzed events in sports for the day.
In my lifetime I've never seen a sport become so popular. A good example of the NFL's overwhelming dominance is that New Year's Day staples in college football and the NHL moved their event to Monday the 2nd this year to avoid going head to head with the NFL on a Sunday. The NFL currently receives an extraordinary amount of coverage, but fans are starving for more. Aikman seems concerned the NFL might be stretching itself too thin but I just don't buy that at all. I'd be shocked if in the near future we will see a sudden downturn of interest in the NFL.