Speaking at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show New York conference Wednesday, NFL Media executive vice president Brian Rolapp said, “we don’t blame everything on the election” and cited the need to hold the audience’s attention as a significant reason for sagging national television ratings on prime time broadcasts, Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today reports.
“If we don’t keep an open mind about preserving some flexibility, any measure of success you have can go away pretty quickly,” Rolapp, also the president and CEO of NFL Network, said, according to Broadcasting & Cable.
“We look constantly at improving the rules of the game, the safety of the game and the quality of the game — even if that means changing things that some people think are sacred cows.”
In order to do that, Rolapp mentioned speeding up the pace of play as a possible solution to keep games moving more quickly.
Coaches, fans, and players have complained about the frequency of stoppages due to a spike in penalties, numerous commercials, and lengthy replay reviews. Unappetizing matchups may have also contributed to the double-digit slide in national viewership for the league’s offerings on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights.
Rolapp added that the NFL is “looking very hard” at the monetization and incidence of commercials during broadcasts.
“In a world where Netflix has no commercials and consumers are used to 15 seconds of pre-roll, is there a better way to do commercials with our broadcast partners?” Rolapp said.
League executives have blamed an unprecedented and highly divisive presidential campaign as one of the chief reasons for fewer eyeballs. Recent prime time broadcasts have gone up against debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Game 5 of the World Series, all of which outperformed that night’s football viewership.
“This election is so unique, and people are going to talk about it for a long time,” Rolapp said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we finish this year down.”