CBS’ McManus: ‘NFL just keeps getting bigger and bigger in the television universe’; addresses safety concerns

A little perspective when it comes to ratings for last weekend’s NFL Championship games. Yes, the ratings fell, but it’s sort of like saying Babe Ruth had an off year in 1928 because he only hit 54 homers, a decline from 60 in 1927.

The NFL’s ratings still are huge even if they are a bit down.

Street and Smith’s Sports Business Daily reports the two games averaged 44.9 million viewers, a drop from 53.7 million in 2012. Some factors are involved here. Namely, Baltimore’s sound victory over New England in the AFC title game, which ran in the late window Sunday, wasn’t nearly as compelling as the Giants’ overtime win at San Francisco (also the late game) the year before. That game attracted 57.6 million viewers.

Also, keep in mind, the ratings for last year’s title games were 30-year highs, dating back to the days when few households had cable. Much like Ruth’s 60, it’s tough to expect the NFL to hit those numbers every year.

Even with the dip, the title games were the most watched shows on television since last year’s Super Bowl. The only other telecasts that even come close are other NFL games.

It’s CBS turn for the Super Bowl this year. Naturally, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus is excited.

When it comes to NFL ratings, McManus almost sounds like he is overwhelmed. Here’s why: The season saw 9 games that had in excess of 30 million viewers.

“We all seem to be consumed with hyperbole,” McManus said. “The ratings continue to amaze us all. The NFL just keeps getting bigger and bigger in the television universe. It makes it very satisfying when you’re in the business of covering the NFL.”

However, all is not perfect. A huge potential roadblock is the game itself. Like all other executives in the business, McManus knows the consequences if the danger levels of football can’t be curbed.

“With respect to the perception of the game and the player safety issues – those are very, very important issues that potentially could affect the viewership,” McManus said. “I’m hoping and am confident that the NFL can take the steps to make the game safer.

“There are issues everybody needs to continue to deal with and pay attention to and not go merrily skipping down the road just assuming we are going to be as dominant with the NFL ten years from now as we are today. Those issues do have to be addressed and I think they are important and I think there is some liability out there if they are not paid attention to.”




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