PLEASANT HILL, SEPTEMBER 8, 2018 – The NFL awoke to another ugly, yet predictable surprise. Ratings for the September 7th opening game for the 2018-2019 NFL season fell sharply for the second year in a row.
The headline today is “…NFL Kickoff Game falls to 9-Year Viewership Low…”. Is this a surprise to anyone that has an inkling of what business is all about?
In a now old book titled “The Goal” Eliyahu M. Goldratt – a Physicist, turned business management guru, turned author – stated that the Goal of any for-profit-business is to “Make more money, now and in the future.” The key question is: How do you do it?
Better business minds than mine struggle with that question every morning, noon and night. One thing that no for-profit-business can do is alienate nearly fifty percent of its potential customers. Every customer has a myriad of options, all vying for the same dollar. The NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL all want a piece of your money.
Last night the NFL was center stage. Baseball is about to get interesting, but most races are settled. The rest of the leagues had no games on. This was set up for the NFL to have the greatest possible access, at a time where every team is just as hopeful of a Superbowl run as every other team.
The numbers are in, and the drop was, another, double digit drop in viewership (see here). The NFL, and the television stations that broadcast the games have allowed a controversy to rage for the third year. That is purely bad business. When business and politics get intermingled you set up an “Us” versus “Them” decision matrix that has nothing to do with the teams on the field.
Two large market teams faced off. The Eagles, whether you like them, love them, or hate them, you have an opinion about them. I’m a Giants fan; you figure out my opinion. The Atlanta Falcons also have a strong following. The beauty of Football is that two teams meet. The “Us” versus “Them” is about the Eagles fans versus the Falcons and their fan base.
People go to sports to forget about work, to forget about their work-a-day life, to forget bills, and to forget aunt Harriet’s health issues. We watch world class athletes do on every play what we may have come close to doing in Pee Wee league, or in Pop Warner League, or in high school. We put ourselves in that play and rejoice at how good – or bad – it was.
Did you notice what is not in that last paragraph? Politics. No one ever goes to a football game, turns on a sporting event of any type, and says to himself “I wonder what politically charged debate I can get into today?” That, my friends, is 99% of sports viewership’s opinion.
So, let me ask you – going back to the Goal – what is the purpose for the TV station, or the Team, the Team ownership, or the league, to create a political controversy – during the game? How do you make more money – as a business – now and in the future; if you choose to include political commentary at the front end of the broadcast, and intermingled with the sports announcement?
As an American I have an opinion on the kneeling epidemic during the National Anthem. As a Giants and Chiefs fan, I want to see my team win. Force me into a political conversation during a football game, and I’m going to tune you out. If you are the TV station, I’ll turn you off, and turn on the radio. If the radio comments on the kneeling epidemic, I turn off the radio.
It is that simple.
Other businesses, Niki, Apple, and the rest that have made the conscious decision to bring politics into their corporate brand, keep this in mind: The minute you do that, you create an “Us” versus “Them” that is roughly split down the middle (give or take a few independents).
Brand equity is not about winning elections. It is about garnering more business, that lead to more sales, that lead to more profit; now and in the future.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative