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NFL assessing advertising model amid ratings slump

American football league the NFL is assessing its approach to advertising during game broadcasts amid ongoing concerns over a fall in ratings, according to a senior executive.

Speaking at the NAB Show New York conference, NFL Media executive vice-president and NFL Network president and chief executive, Brian Rolapp, said the league is investigating the means as to which it commercialises its broadcasts.

Rolapp said the NFL is “looking very hard” at its approach to advertising, admitting that running up to 70 ads per game can be a turnoff for viewers. He said, according to the Broadcasting & Cable website: “In a world where Netflix has no commercials and consumers are used to 15 seconds of pre-roll, is there a better way to do commercials with our broadcast partners?”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month shrugged off concerns over falling television ratings, stating his belief that the league hasn’t lost viewers. Goodell was quizzed over the ratings issue at a press conference during the league’s latest owners’ meeting in Houston.

At the time, viewership had fallen by around 11 per cent over the first six weeks of the 2016 regular season. Statistics from audience measurement company Nielsen also suggested that each live televised Sunday night game was down in the ratings compared to the equivalent encounter last year.

“If we don’t keep an open mind about preserving some flexibility, any measure of success you have can go away pretty quickly,” Rolapp said yesterday (Wednesday). “We look constantly at improving the rules of the game, the safety of the game and the quality of the game – even if that means changing things that some people think are sacred cows.”

Rolapp said despite the NFL’s high-profile dip in broadcast ratings, “we are not overly surprised” and “not overly worried.” He also pointed to the impact of the US presidential election, adding ratings have been down during every election year since 1992.

However, Rolapp refused to blame everything on the election, adding presentation of games consistently needs assessing. He said: “Could they be shorter? Could they be better? Are replays too long? We are constantly look at those things to make the pace of the games more interesting.”