How the NFL’s most up-to-date controversy is alienating a few of its broadcast companions


Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL desperately need the league’s partnership with Amazon — which started earlier than final season — to be a rousing success. Dave Richard/AP Photograph

Within the years since Roger Goodell turned NFL commissioner in August 2006, the next steadily emerged as a dependable rule of thumb:

If the league is absolutely decided to do one thing — and that vary can go from making a generic Tremendous Bowl emblem to angling its approach into the very best graces of a selected broadcast associate to, oh, permitting public opinion to find out the results for guidelines misdemeanors — it’s finest to be very skeptical of its motives.

Thankfully, the motivations are apparent with the latest controversy. The NFL desperately needs its partnership with Amazon — which started earlier than final season, when the streaming service and the league agreed on a $13 billion deal to stream Thursday night time video games via the 2033 season — to be a rousing and much more profitable success, even when it alienates extra established league broadcast companions within the current.

Nielsen Media, which is lengthy trusted with the viewership knowledge it supplies due to its independence, just lately introduced that it plans to incorporate first-party knowledge in its viewers measurements for streaming providers, most notably Amazon. First-party knowledge is data that the providers have collected themselves from their viewers.

The NFL is on board with this choice, and for apparent causes. It will enable for Amazon’s “Thursday Evening Soccer” to report greater scores and viewership numbers, as a result of its knowledge differs from what Nielsen gathers, thus permitting for greater promoting charges.

Final 12 months, Nielsen reported that “Thursday Evening Soccer” averaged 9.58 million viewers on Amazon Prime. Amazon reported that its personal knowledge decided that viewership was roughly 18 % greater, with the quantity at 11.3 million viewers after its first-party knowledge was included for the 15-game slate.

Throughout the 2022 season, Amazon provided occasional rebuttals to reviews of Nielsen scores on particular person “Thursday Evening Soccer” broadcasts, citing its personal first-party knowledge.

Now the NFL is publicly in Amazon’s nook, whereas Nielsen is at the very least giving the impression of sacrificing its nonpartisan picture to appease the league and a sure essential streaming associate. Executives at different networks that broadcast NFL video games are someplace between annoyed and livid, arguing that on the very least there may be now a notion that the enjoying area is uneven.

“Nielsen is about to sacrifice its most precious attribute — impartiality — to profit one consumer, one program, and one content material provider,” posted Michael Mulvihill, president of insights and analytics at longtime NFL broadcast associate Fox Sports activities, on Aug. 28. “Reckless, wrongheaded, and a slap within the face to the biggest Nielsen purchasers and NFL companions.”

The identical day, Flora Kelly, vp of ESPN Analysis, provided one thing of a heads-up for NFL followers who take an curiosity within the viewership numbers. “This Amazon-only Nielsen adjustment creates an apples-to-oranges comparability between them and different NFL media rights companions for this season,” she posted. “This is essential context for everybody to recollect as we head into the NFL season.”

Throughout a convention name on Aug. 29, CBS Sports activities chairman Sean McManus provided comparable sentiments. “A good and correct viewers measurement throughout all platforms, as you recognize, is totally important to our business,” McManus stated. “Something that’s not neutral and unbiased is unacceptable to us. I need to say that we predict it’s extraordinarily odd and unlucky that completely different guidelines are all of a sudden making use of to 1 platform.”

The advocacy group Video Promoting Bureau blasted Nielsen in an announcement, accusing it of pandering to Amazon by agreeing to incorporate first-party knowledge. Nielsen pushed again, saying in an announcement that “we wholeheartedly object to these accusations.”

For now, the Amazon/Nielsen plan awaits approval from the Media Scores Council, a regulatory physique that accredits media knowledge measurement corporations, nevertheless it definitely looks as if it can undergo. If the opposite league broadcast companions need somebody accountable, it’s by no means a foul thought to imagine Goodell is behind it and work from there.

Nix has left ESPN

Wendi Nix introduced this previous week that she has left ESPN. “Precisely 17 years in the past, I walked into ESPN wide-eyed and excited,” she wrote in a put up on Instagram. “This week, I stroll out the identical approach. Grateful, however equally excited concerning the subsequent chapter.” Nix was not laid off, however her contract was not renewed. Earlier than becoming a member of ESPN, Nix labored at Ch. 7, NESN, and Fox Sports activities New England (earlier than it turned NBC Sports activities Boston) . . . We give NESN numerous grief round right here, nevertheless it needs to be famous that Tom Caron was one of many voices that, as Mookie Betts reclaimed Fenway Park as his personal territory throughout the Dodgers’ collection win final weekend, hit the Purple Sox with blunt criticism for buying and selling Betts greater than three years in the past. “How did you let this man get away?” Caron stated after Sunday’s recreation. “He ought to have been the cornerstone of the franchise.” Possibly that’s not precisely as daring as, oh, demanding that Chaim Bloom be traded again to the Rays for 3 scuffed baseballs, nevertheless it’s the reality, and Caron didn’t hesitate to ship it.