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Mark Cuban says NFL is “10 years away from an implosion”

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How many non-Browns games did you watch this past season on Thursday night? How many weeks did it take for you to get burned out on the NFL this year? For me, with the number of games I can now watch per week having exploded over the past five years, I think the burnout rate is tangible. Apparently, what I’ve noticed in myself is also apparent to Mark Cuban who has some words of warning for the NFL.

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said Sunday evening when his pregame conversation with reporters, which covered a broad range of topics, swayed toward football. “I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

“I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule number one of business.”

While I don’t know if I buy the timeline and I’m sure Cuban was speaking generally, I think there’s something to this. NFL football used to be a Sunday and Monday night activity. In recent years with the expansion to Thursday night they’ve looked to cash in on more and more primetime TV deal money. It’s been very good for the NFL financially. Tell me that you’d have the guts to turn down a chance at $275 million from CBS.

But the NFL is a multi-billion dollar annual operation and Cuban has a point when he brings up the example of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” They took a show that had risen to absolute TV dominance and burned it out by extracting every penny out of it by having it on more than once a week and adding a daytime version. Maybe that show was always going to burn out, but it’s reasonable to assume they accelerated it.

When August and September roll around, I’m thirsty for NFL football. By Thanksgiving, I really didn’t care all that much about the Thanksgiving Day games. Those Thursday games used to be a special event while preparing and eating turkey. Now, with the proliferation of NFL football into the weekly schedule, it takes something that was more scarce and precious and makes it much less valuable.

[Also see: Ray Farmer Won’t Attend Manziel Pro Day]

(Photo by Chronicle / Kat Wade)

 

  • Harv 21

    Not to mention the head injury thing. Promoting the comic-book violence has been central to league marketing, and I doubt I’m the only one newly concerned about players wobbling to the sideline. Sure feels to me like NFL popularity has peaked. It’s possible to tweak its image but without sacrificing at least some of that potent American blend of brutal violence, chest-beating heroics and cutting-edge evolving strategy.

  • boomhauertjs

    Having to hear about the draft seemingly all year round definitely adds to the burnout factor. I basically ignore it as much as I can.
    If someone dies on the field (which doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility), I think it would really change the perception of the league.

  • CB Everett

    As much as it pains me, I agree with Cuban. People view capitalism as the ability to push for as much economic growth as the market can sustain–but in their myopic hayday of pouring champagne on bikini’d Brazilians, they easily forget that some semblance of restraint will sustain them long term. Instead they will squeeze every drop of oil out of that well as quickly as they can because, well, the crash will hopefully be on the next guy’s watch. Ex: MLB (with the exception that Selig was too stupid to get out in time).

    PS. Everytime I hear the NFL talking about a potential London franchise, I want to punch Goddell in the face.

    PPS. You don’t really need a valid reason to want to punch Goodell in the face.

  • Denny

    Yup.

  • MrCleaveland

    I think the saturation factor makes a comedown inevitable. Barring local rooting interest, I never watch any football Monday through Friday. I usually watch one game each on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll occasionally watch a non-Browns game on Sunday if there’s a compelling match-up and I have absolutely nothing else to do.

    Just waiting for adoption of the 18-game schedule to get the crash and burn started.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m suddenly very hungry for bacon.

  • MrCleaveland

    Very well said, CB. It’s hard for leagues to know when enough is enough and more is too much.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    http://www.jennyonthespot.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Kevin-Bacon.jpg

    Awesome actor one of my favorites!

    And check out his awesome “Footloose” tribute he did the other night on The Tonight Show here: http://www.today.com/entertainment/cut-loose-kevin-bacon-gets-footloose-tonight-show-entrance-2D79419530

  • nj0

    Have you seen the local TV deals that MLB is getting? Baseball is doing fine.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cuban knows about greed so the NFL should listen! But they have gone overboard the combine thing and them moving the draft back is lame. I love the draft I love discussing all the rookies but it’s way to long before the draft now.

  • mgbode

    Bacon on a ham sandwhich with a side of pork rinds.

  • Harv 21

    can you realistically expect a league balancing the interests of a couple dozen self-interested billionaires to fear over-saturation? Even sports leagues with uber-powerful commissioners who get their way, like David Stern, only eye expansion. It’s drill baby, drill, more is more – more preseason, more Thursdays, more playoffs, more continents.

    The gluttony means short-term over long-tem planning, and these entertainment businesses all have finite lifespans. Like boxing, they ride the meteor of whatever cultural forces make them hugely popular, squeeze it out, and slowly dissipate. Sometimes the sport is so great they just can’t kill it, and it rebounds with a good market share in an altered form as baseball did.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Er, most people become billionaires by balancing their interests with over-saturation. The Q is more if these owners figure that the NFL is going to hit a lull anyway in 15-20 years (whether from the CTE issues or whatever) and therefore they are going to maximize their profits now before then. If a bunch of owners decide to start selling in 7-10 years you’ll know why.

  • MrCleaveland

    See, mg, this is a perfect example of intelligent people not knowing when to quit. Garry had the good bacon gag, and then Sham has me going all LOL with the Kevin Bacon pic, and then you go and ruin it all with the cheap ham and pork rinds bit. You’d make a great NFL owner.

  • In the short run yes. The regional cable sports channel will be its own undoing eventually too. As those local TV deals get struck and cost people who don’t even like baseball more than $4 per month for example, it will accelerate the politicians involving themselves and breaking it up. This will be an easy platform for politicians to stand on so that “the San Diego Padres don’t get to put what is in essence a TV tax on their region whether they like the Padres or not.”

    So, MLB is going to end up looking hoggy too if Congress or the Senate comes in and tells their TV partners and cable carriers that they’ve gone too far with their regionally granted monopolies and TV package “deals.”

  • cmm13

    “NFL is 10 years away from an implosion”
    …says the guy who owns a team in a league that most fans would like to see start play in December and then wrap up in March.

    To me it’s not the length of the actual season nor the games available on TV, where the NFL has lost its mind is in the activities it’s created to keep itself int he 24 hour news cycle.

    The Combine, Pro Days, The Draft, ESPN visits to EVERY Training Camp, Pre-season Games, etc.

  • mgbode

    yeah, but I’m the NFL owner that just bought a team to pump up the value, ride to the top, then dump it on some poor unsuspecting billionaire right before the whole league goes off a cliff.

  • mgbode

    here’s the kicker that may stop that from happening for awhile:

    the moment that Congress/courts do that with sports, the entire cable industry falls apart. if it’s a monopoly for TW to charge someone for ESPN, then it’s a monopoly for TW to charge me for MSNBC, SpikeTV, MTV, etc.

    and, we finally can go to our ala carte menu of programming options. pay for what you want, not what you are told you want (of course, this will go further to squeeze every nickel out of us by having networks do it by the program rather than the channel in some cases. and so it goes).

  • BenRM

    That’s an interesting question.

  • Balrog
  • MrCleaveland

    Well I can’t argue with that! Pass me some of that kielbasa.

  • Achilles

    I agree. I also think the NFL’s attempt to stay relevant and in the news year round with the whole draft process and free agency has already grown tiresome. I know that I ignore the whole pro-day news cycle as those work outs have little to no effect on how teams draft or on how prospects are viewed.

    I, of course, will pay attention to the draft, but after that I am not interested until they start playing for real in September.

  • Petefranklin

    When they put a sportsbook in the Horseshoe downtown, you’ll care.

  • Petefranklin

    Does anyone else find it ironic that this comes from an NBA owner. You know, the league where they overexpanded, have too many shitty seven game series, have teams losing on purpose because the season is too long, and shoved womens pro basketball down our throats.Maybe the NFL should have lost half a season to a strike to, you know, limit it’s exposure.
    The only thing funnier would be if Gary Bettman said it.

  • nj0

    Regulatory issues of the telecommunication industry aside, the RSN deals with MLB show a very real market demand for baseball’s live programming, especially one aimed at the prime male demographics. Even if/when the RSN/cable/etc. go away, there will still be big money and massive interest in advertising on MLB and other, arguably more so as digital content makes it harder for advertisers to know that their ads are being seen.

    I also don’t understand how politicians will be able to make MLB the bad guy when the real issue is cable TV and federal regulation of that industry.

  • nj0

    And if/when that occurs, MLB, NFL, et al will be able to cut out the middle men and really start raking it in.

  • mgbode

    never underestimate congressmen’s ability to make someone else the bad guy. but, that is a topic for a different site.

  • nj0

    I just don’t get why “regional sports channels will be [MLB’s] undoing”. We’ve had them for years (decades?) and there have not been many issues. Sure, there are some disputes (see Astros), but overall it has seemed to be a lucrative deal for MLB, cable companies, and the consumers. While you hear some hurmphing from fans, the vast majority seem okay with the arrangement.

    Also, unlike the NFL, MLB seems pretty content with its product and does not have plans to expand/dilute things more. Yeah, you can point to the new WC, but that’s really a drop in the bucket compared to the NFL wet-dream: 18-game-season.

    I just don’t get this seemingly chronic “baseball is dying” narrative. Apparently, even signs of strength (like massive TV deals) are really veiled indicators that things are going poorly.

  • mgbode

    the Astros situation is ludicrous both in Houston and statewide (my boys had adopted the ‘Stros as their 2nd team but they can no longer see them on TV here nor on my MLB.TV subscription).

    but, anyways, I agree with you. I don’t think MLB is suffering and think they have been building back up the last 5 or so years. the cable deals have helped them as much as anyone outside of college football conferences.

    MLB’s the current lack of scoring will likely be followed by an era of offense as teams either figure out how to score more runs efficiently or MLB invokes rules to hurt pitchers (as they have done in the past). the following era of more scoring in baseball could boost them quite a bit if they are fortunate enough to land when the NFL suffers an inevitable back-step. we shall see, but baseball has become my favorite sport over the past few years.