McMullen: Cuban’s NFL predictions are shallow
You can probably surmise that a guy whose estimated worth is $3.3 billion at last check knows a thing or two about greed and Mark Cuban is lecturing the NFL about that cardinal sin causing its declining ratings.
To be fair the Dallas Mavericks owner has been on the ground floor when it comes to predicting the NFL ratings decline but like everyone else Cuban is trying to paint a layered problem as a simple one and tie it up in a bow.
From Cuban's standpoint, the NFL constantly chasing every dollar and oversaturating the sport on television is the only reason for the dip, something he again espoused to the Washington Post when he told the newspaper that diluting the product is essentially penny wise and dollar foolish.
And he's right of course while at the same time being hypocritical and entirely myopic.
After all, Cuban's team plays in a league that is also overexposed and is chasing every single dollar available in a dogged fashion. And on a personal level Cuban isn't a billionaire for eschewing available revenue streams in any of his previous business dealings.
More so pointing out the obvious doesn't make you a visionary, it makes you a pundit observing a current trend. Virtually every vehicle in television is currently in decline as the entire industry tries to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape.
In fact, the NFL has weathered the storm better than most which Cuban actually acknowledged in between his continued predictions of doom and gloom.
“The NFL still has great TV ratings relative to other shows,” Cuban admitted. “That said, I think the problem I outlined [greed and oversaturation] continues and is accelerating for the NFL.”
There is little doubt that the NFL could do without "Thursday Night Football" and the early London windows or at least use those vehicles to try to maximize the potential of the ever-evolving streaming over-the-top options.
Where Cuban is right, however, is that the NFL isn't about to engage in any givebacks and as long as networks are willing to spend significant money to watch two terrible offenses like Baltimore and Miami play on a day the nation used to dedicate to NBC sitcoms a generation ago, the league will continue to force each team to go through one no-prep week a year.
That part fits the narrative but it also doesn't take into account any of the other issues contributing to ratings declines like Millennials shifting toward new technology, the social-justice protests that have alienated some, and a lesser product due to the overlegislation of the game as well as a less aesthetic brand of football being taught at the developmental levels.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Cuban himself even touched on another issue, one far more concerning to the long-term health of the NFL.
“[The problem is] confirmed by the dramatic decline in participation by kids in tackle football and from a TV perspective the significant drop in viewing by Millennials and younger,” he claimed. “The age of NFL viewers keeps on going up.”
The latter part of that, though, should read "the age of television sports viewers keeps on going up."
A recent SportsBusiness Journal Study of Nielsen ratings indeed found the NFL viewers skewing older, the average age of a viewer moving up from 46 in 2006 to 50 in 2017. Here's the thing, though, of the nine major sports being studied, all but women's tennis skewed older including Cuban's own league, the NBA.
Cuban isn't Nostradamus, he's Captain Obvious.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for Extra Points Media and 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen