With the National Football League’s ratings in an unprecedented freefall, the networks are trying to figure out how to make up for their losses. Their drop in advertising revenue has already put a dent in the wallets of NFL brass to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s not even mentioning the $1.1 billion dollars in government subsidies that could be cut off before President Trump is done with the disrespectful players.

Everyone besides the players seems to be scrambling, looking for ways to fix this problem before those who have boycotted the league cause complete ruin for the once beloved sport. The team owners are considering replacing Goodell because of his inaction and the networks are attempting to cut down the number of games that they’ll be airing this season.

Since there are some games that they do still consider to be prosperous to play on their screen time, they’re trying to come up with ways to keep the few fans they have left happy. To that end, according to the NY Times, you might get to see Fox Sports roll out it’s newest gimmick on Thanksgiving day. The network is cutting its normal commercial format in favor of short, 6 second ads that don’t actually take up the whole screen:

“People tuning into Fox Sports to watch football on Thanksgiving Day may be distracted from their turkey-eating bliss by a new type of commercial: six-second messages from brands that take over most of the screen, relegating the broadcast of the game to a small square on the side.

The ads, which Fox has been trying out during the Major League Baseball World Series, are a spin on the six-second commercials that Fox Networks Group first tested in August. By appearing on the same screen as the game, and popping up between plays, the ads are meant to be less disruptive than traditional commercial breaks.”

Essentially what they’re saying here is that with declining interest in the sport, they’re trying to give less chance for their audience to wander off. They obviously feel that since they will have so many people chained to their sofa on the upcoming holiday might stick with the games if they don’t ever actually have to be taken away from the action, even for commercials.

“The National Football League, which is dealing with falling TV ratings, has said it is looking for ways to reduce the commercial time during games. Nine of the so-called double-box ads will play during the Thanksgiving game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions. They will replace one standard commercial block, which typically last two minutes and twenty seconds. Depending on audience reaction, the ads could become a regular feature during N.F.L. games across networks.

‘We are working with Fox on a viewer study that involves watching fans watch the game, including their biometrics,’ said Amanda Herald, vice president of media strategy and business development at the N.F.L. She noted that networks have been using the double-box format in 30-second increments this season.

When the six-second ads run, ‘we’ll look at whether they’re more engaged at that moment — for example, heart rate, skin response,’ she said. ‘We’ll also then ask those fans after the game about their sentiment toward the broadcast. Did it feel more commercialized than typical or less because it had one less ad break?’”

The networks are willing to do just about anything to make up for the underperforming football games this season. They’re even willing to pander to the extremely short attention spans of many today, if it means that they can minimize the losses they’re experiencing.

“The effort shows the willingness of both broadcasters and sports leagues to experiment with their long-held formulas for ads as they grapple with cord-cutters and viewers in the internet era, who are increasingly impatient with frequent commercial breaks. Roger Goodell, the N.F.L.’s commissioner, said in March that the league was taking several steps to improve the fan viewing experience, including working with broadcasters to “avoid untimely breaks in the action.” 

‘We know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again,’ Mr. Goodell said in an open letter to fans. ‘I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.’

Spending on commercials during N.F.L. regular-season games reached $4 billion last year, according to Kantar Media. Fox Networks Group has been able to charge brands roughly as much for six-second ads as it does for 15-second ads, people familiar with the negotiations told The New York Times earlier this year.

‘We are trying to make the N.F.L. a better product over all,’ said Joe Marchese, the head of ad sales for Fox Networks Group, which is owned by 21st Century Fox.”

The NFL is in a bad bind, that the anthem protesting players put them in with their disrespect for the flag. Goodell and everyone at the NFL are finally running scared because of the highly effective boycott that they were hit with, and things are getting ready to change. They can try a new ad format if they want, but if Americans don’t want to watch, they still won’t make any money.

It’s time for the NFL to just admit that the only play they have left is to teach their players to respect the flag and those who died to protect it.

[H/T: NY Times]

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