Currently there is no sport that even comes close to competing with the NFL. Hell, 31 of the top 32 most watched shows this past fall were NFL games, not to mention the most American day and one that should be a holiday, Super Bowl Sunday. The NFL is by far the most successful in terms of money too, they had revenue exceeding 9 BILLION dollars (Yes, Billion). The MLB is second to the NFL in revenue at 7.7 billion and they play more than 142 more games than any NFL team. There is a little tension with Commissioner Roger Goodell and the players but, he has improved the game and it obviously has not affected the business of football. As the NFL sits to most fans and probably most owners, the game is going nowhere but up and taking a quick look all readers are probably thinking the same right now. However I am here to inform you that 20 years from now we may have a completely different game, if one at all.
First let’s talk about the T.V. The NFL had over 200 million unique watchers of a football game, which represents 80 percent of all T.V. users and 69 percent of all possible viewers. That number is astonishing. However the question here is how many more people can the NFL get in America to watch these games. You don’t see these numbers for any other type of show or anything broadcasted so it will be hard finding more people to watch. Also, the NFL just signed new T.V. deals which kick in 2014 including the 2 billion dollars a year just for ESPN to show the Monday night games. This is where the first big problem arises. How much more money will companies be willing to dish out to gain the television rights deal to NFL games. It’s very hard to imagine a station giving 3 or 4 billion dollars next time around when the deal is up. The T.V. stations are barely breaking even as it is and will have to put a stop to the madness sooner or later. So the NFL will need to find another way to make money because they have maxed out with the T.V. deals.
Next, we have global expansion. For the other sports in America, the NBA and MLB, they are doing very well with expanding the game and making the sport global. However, the NFL is the one that struggles with expansion. For whatever reason, the NFL cannot get anything going in the foreign market. They have had a failed league in Europe and no country is really willing to try the sport. I personally think that it has to do with accessibility. If you look at the other sport that do well, soccer, basketball, and basketball all the person needs to do to play the game is gather his friends together and hope one of them has a ball. Football on the other hand, if a person wants to play and play the right way needs equipment and a much bigger group of people to play. My guess is that either it’s too tough to find 22 people to play or the equipment is too expensive. (Yes, you could play football with less people and no equipment but to have an organized league where kids can learn the rules requires a lot of money and places that do have money have established soccer as their “Big Sport” already).
Lastly, we have the danger of the game. I hate having to address this because I am a huge fan of the NFL and am an advocate of not making changes. However it is a bad sign when your Commissioner is saying that he fears one day someone will die on the field. Parents all over the country now are refusing to let their kids play the sport because of the new found danger of concussions (it’s not that new, it’s just now being criticized by the media). It also doesn’t help when little kids are tackling and getting hit like this. They are turning their kids to other sports such as the ones listed before to ensure their kids a safe childhood. This could very well be the last generation where football is the most dominant sport in the country that it runs right now. Because kids that grow up will watch the sports they played growing up and the NFL will slowly lose viewers.
As it stands the NFL is still in great shape. There was over a billion dollars spent in fantasy football last year (yes fantasy football). The league has very young, promising stars to look forward to and at least for the near future it will continue to dominate America. That being said the end of the NFL and football as we know it could come to an end when this generation has past. Fantasy football although short term created a new way to watch viewers and brought many more viewers to watch the NFL, but in the long run it could have sped up that area in possible revenue and saturated it already. Only time will tell if the NFL is now going to be on a slow decline, so we will have to wait and see.