The latest supposed deadline for the NFL labor talks is Friday, but the real deadline is not until late summer when the players are supposed to start getting paid and the networks have to start contemplating life without football.
So if the NFL endures a work stoppage here for a while as expected, few expect the league to actually miss any games, there is just too much of a gravy train to knock it off the tracks, and both sides know it. If the work stoppage did somehow cut into the schedule, I’d expect the league to just push back the season and post-season a few weeks and play a full campaign.
The networks will still sell their NFL packages as usual and marketers if they are smart will still buy, because the NFL is the one thing you don’t want to get left out of, and there is no way the season is not going to get played. Period. Clip and save it. Won’t happen.
But if the work stoppage does postpone or knock out some football, there are a few outfits that actually would benefit from no NFL. Here are some of them:
1) COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND ITS TV PARTNERS
Football fans aren’t going to stop watching football, so they will audible to the next best level of football. Sorry UFL, that’s called college football. Look for ratings to see a nice bump at the NCAA level. It also leads to the question of whether some college games would shift to Sundays to fill the gap. My guess is a couple mid majors and maybe some bigger ones will to try it to take advantage, but logistics make it pretty tough to do that considering the NFL could come back at any minute.
2) THE EMMYS
Yes, the Emmys. Three out of four years on a Sunday night, the TV kudo-fest has to go up against NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and that’s no easy task for ratings. And in the fourth year of the cycle, like last year, when NBC has the show it pushes it much earlier so it takes place before SNF kicks off for the season. So not having a Sunday Night Football contest to go up against this fall might not be a bad thing for the Emmys. As long as they don’t hire James Franco to host.
People are tuning in a lot more than last year to see cars turn left for a couple hours on Fox, and that’s a good thing if you are a fan of the sport like I am. However, I haven’t talked to a single person – including in the sports TV biz – that can tell me why this is happening. I have no clue either why the ratings dips of recent years have seen an early turnaround. Not that much has changed – no one is winning every single race, the races are still a bit too long, and Dale Junior still would need a pretty good GPS system to find Victory Lane in a race that matters. Whatever the case, as NASCAR drives to its late season, not having the NFL can’t be a bad thing.
Same as NASCAR, MLB national ratings haven’t been hitting homers lately, so a little less competition might not be a bad thing. And the Yankees getting that train wreck of a pitching staff in order might not hurt either. Though if they don’t, I won’t cry a single tear, I’ll just sit back and wait for Cameron Diaz to feed me some popcorn on national TV.
5) MINNESOTA VIKINGS FANS
After last year’s debacle in which the team and the stadium held a competition to see who could stage the most impressive collapse, we could all use a year off.