Roger Goodell talks ratings drop, sports betting and more


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with owners in a fall meeting that finished up on Wednesday in Houston, Texas. They discussed a number of subjects, including the recent drop in NFL TV ratings, his opinion on the legalization of sports betting and other issues.

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Goodell didn’t write off the decline in ratings completely but did not blame the on-field product or rule changes. He stated that many primetime games were up against Presidential Debates and that Thursday Night Football got hurt because it wasn’t on a broadcast network.

“I don’t think there is a single reason for it. We look at all those factors. Everyone has theories. … we also know that two primetime games that saw our most dramatic decrease went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our primetime games was on Thursday night on NFL Network, as opposed to a network broadcast, which will always get a lower rating. There are a lot of factors to be considered. We don’t make excuses. We try to look at what’s causing it and make changes.”

However, Goodell did feel that the NFL truly didn’t lose any viewers.

“We don’t think we’ve lost viewers. When you look at ratings, you have to look a little deeper than that. It’s viewers, but also how long they’re engaging for. A lot of times, people will leave a game for whatever reason.”

Goodell can pretend all he wants, but the ratings drop this season has been significant. The Colts at Texans game on Sunday Night Football last weekend won the night for NBC, but their ratings are down considerably from previous years.

As reported by Awful Announcing, the game had the lowest rating of any Sunday Night Football game since 2011. In total, it had a 38 percent ratings drop from the Week 6 Sunday Night Football game from last season.

SNF is lucky not to have faced off against HBO’s Game of Thrones. However, the season premiere of the Walking Dead is this coming Sunday, a show that may hurt their ratings in the important 18-49 age demographic.

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Sports Betting

The position of gambling and sports betting on NFL games hasn’t changed, despite the popularity of unregulated betting markets and daily fantasy sports, where many teams have inked deals with industry leaders, DraftKings and FanDuel.

“There clearly has been a society shift as far as how people view gambling. … We are still very much opposed to legalized gambling on sports. We think that has an impact on the integrity of our game.”

Behind closed doors, I believe that many in NFL offices may have a love-hate relationship with sports gambling. In the midst of a ratings decline, I’m sure that league’s higher-ups realize that those with money on the games are their most loyal viewers.

Goodell’s assertion that sports betting “has an impact on the integrity of our game” is even more of a reason to regulate the activity.

Bettors in Nevada sportsbooks wager about $4 billion annually, while the underground betting market of online sportsbooks, office pools, and your regular neighborhood bookie amount to at least $80 billion. Even that may be on the low end. Some have estimated the amount wagered in unregulated markets may approach $400 billion.

After all, regulation has worked well in other markets, such as Europe. Regulators work with the government and sports leagues in countries like the United Kingdom, to look for unusual betting patterns, which protects the integrity of the game.

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti - Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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