NFL's Roger Goodell says he's not worried about those dropping TV ratings

Roger Goodell
Mike Cohen | The New York Times

If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is sweating over the sport's steep ratings drop, he's not letting it show.

The double-digit downturn the National Football League has seen this season is largely the result of changes in media and technology to which the league is adjusting, Goodell said Thursday at the Dealbook conference in New York.

"These ratings are cyclical. They're a reflection of multiple issues," he said, while conceding that "bad games" also are a factor at times.

Among the changes the league is considering are more options for viewers and additional ways to consume sports, reflected in the NFL's outreach to social networks including Twitter, where it has live-streamed several games.

"You're seeing another shift here in the media world that we have been anticipating," Goodell said. "What you see here is a real shift in how people want to consume the media."

Ratings have been down across the board, but particularly in prime time.

Monday night games are off 24 percent, Sunday night is down 19 percent and Thursday night ratings have tumbled 18 percent, according to multiple reports.

Goodell said talk most recently has turned to cutting down the time of games, which now take an average of about three hours and 10 minutes. He also emphasized continuing efforts to improve the safety for players, and to deal better with the domestic violence issues among some players that have attracted negative attention.

"I think our country has to have more respect for women, and we have to unite," he said.

There's also been plenty of talk that the move by players, most notably San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest, also has eaten into the NFL's popularity.

However, Goodell said he supports players speaking out on issues.

"When people come to football games, they love to focus on the game. They want to not be distracted by other issues," he said. "But you can't remove them from their position in society."