NFL’s low TV ratings explained – If the game isn’t free – then I’m not watching

NFL’s low TV ratings explained – If the game isn’t free – then I’m not watching

Call me old school. I remember the good days when I could watch NFL football for free without subscribing to ESPN or the NFL Network. You could relax and watch free NFL games on CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. Life was simple back then. My friends and I loved our football, and you couldn’t move us away from the TV sets. We would go to each other’s homes and yell and scream, and we loved it. Sadly, America is starting to lose interest in football. This year the NFL has seen it’s TV ratings drop for the first time. What happened? I will tell you what happened. If the game isn’t free – then I’m not watching.

The era of the cable cutter is here

I am a cable cutter. I still have basic TV through Comcast. But I don’t have ESPN, and I don’t have the NFL network. When Monday Night Football went to ESPN, I was devastated. Instead of watching football on Monday from the comforts of my home, I had to go somewhere else. So I essentially lost interest in Monday Night Football. And guess what, I found other things to fill up my Monday nights. It wasn’t easy at first. Watching NFL football was a part of my DNA. But because I found something else to do, that lack of interest on Mondays spilled over into the weekends. Now I find myself watching a game for just a few minutes on the weekends.

My lack of interest started when Monday Night Football moved to ESPN. As a cable cutter I couldn’t watch it any more.

I believe this is what is happening in America these days. More and more people are becoming cable cutters. And these people can’t watch Monday Night Football. So they are finding other things to do. When you find other things to do on Mondays, then your mind is off of football. And when your mind is off of football, it isn’t as important as it used to be in your life.

How can the NFL improve it’s TV ratings?

I really hope the folks at the NFL are reading this. Here’s what the NFL needs to do to improve their TV ratings:

  1. Ditch the cable subscription channels of ESPN and the NFL Network. Cord cutters can’t watch these games. They can still make plenty of money from commercials. 
  2. Stream NFL games online “for free”. People are already streaming the NFL games through the Reddit website for free. Why not embrace the cord cutters and make football available via the NFL website? Direct those viewers to the NFL site instead of Reddit. They can still make money from online advertising and commercial breaks.
  3. Make mobile NFL apps free. Verizon offers an NFL app to its subscribers. Expand this to other carriers. Again, they can still make money from commercials.


Photo By Tom Newby via


Gary is one of the founders of RetireBook, and is the site engineer and also one of its writers. He has been working in IT for over 25 years, is a world traveler, and enjoys everything about living in the Pacific Northwest. He is full of energy, loves the outdoors, climbed several mountains, volunteers in his community, and has been saving his whole life for an early retirement that will be coming up in just a few short years.