A couple of months ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell started talking about an expansion of the League’s regular season from the current 16 games to as many as 18 games.
The proposal to be ratified by Team owners could take effect as early as 2011. The plan would be to cut two of the pre-season games in exchange for the two extra regular season matchups so that the total number of games per Team would remain at 20 each season.
The rationale for the change is multi-fold. First and foremost from the League’s perspective, it would mean more ticket revenues and more lucrative television contracts. Second, the NFL recognizes that the fans do not find much favour with the pre-season games. Third, the League wants to attract more international attention, and playing extra regular season games would allow for more games outside the USA.
We would rather see the NFL stick with 16 regular season games. In response to the arguments put forward by the League, first, we get the impression from fellow season ticket holders around the NFL that current prices are close to the limit of what most fans are willing to pay. You can bet that those season ticket prices will increase if more regular season games are added, regardless of whether the number of pre-season games is cut accordingly. Further, if the League wants to improve its television contracts, then we suggest that a starting point (as soon as existing contracts allow) would be to increase the level of competition by opening the bid process to all of the major players for every game every week. For example, allow CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network to televise exclusively any game. That is not the current regime as various networks contract for certain time slots, for example, NBC with Sunday nights. Increased competition will likely benefit the League financially. Second, you bet that we fans have little desire to watch pre-season games either live or on television. They should be scrapped altogether or at least reduced to two per season – one at home and one on the road for each Team. But that is a separate matter from expanding the regular season – just because you cut useless pre-season games does not mean that you have to or should increase the number of regular season games. Third, who cares about playing more games overseas? We certainly do not, and we suspect that most fans are in the same boat.
The crucial factor for us is hype. The NFL is unique among the major professional sports because of its short season. That short season means that every game is pivotal. Only eight home games in the regular season means that loyal fans want to make every one of them because you never know which game will spell the fate of the Team that year. Sure, adding two games to the regular season does not sound like a lot, but it is a slippery slope. Add two now; add a couple of more in a few years; and before you know it we have significantly expanded the regular season and reduced the level of hype per game in the process.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The NFL formula is working just fine. 16 regular season games is enough. Cut the pre-season to two games for each Team.
Probably every follower of this website can say without hesitation who the Browns open the regular season against this coming year, but does anyone care who we play in the pre-season? The schedule is here, just in case you want to have a gander. Cheers. http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/gameday/schedule.php