In a wide-ranging interview this morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Commissioner Roger Goodell noted that exciting on-field play has resulted in viewership numbers that top all other programs on television by a wide margin.
“It is the magic of the game. It is the passion and the diversity of our fan base. They love football. Our game is so unpredictable.” Commissioner Goodell said when asked about NFL viewership doubling the average primetime show and NFL games ranking as 18 of the 20 most-watched shows on TV this fall.
“Our league is so competitive now,” the Commissioner continued. “Of the eight divisions last year, we would have six new division champions if things hold as they are today. The competitiveness is what the fans want, the unpredictable nature of our game. You saw it last night (in the Jets-Broncos game).”
Last night’s game was decided on a touchdown with 58 seconds left and continued the trend of fantastic finishes. Two-thirds of this season’s games (98 of 147) have had the opponents within seven points in the fourth quarter.
Following is a transcript of the Commissioner’s CNBC appearance:
NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
CNBC SQUAWK BOX with
GUEST HOST MIAMI DOLPHINS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD STEPHEN ROSS
& CO-HOSTS JOE KERNAN, BECKY QUICK & ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
November 18, 2011
On NFL games comprising 18 of the top-rated 20 programs on TV this season:
You’re right. Eighteen of the top 20 shows have been NFL shows.
On explaining high TV ratings:
It is the magic of the game. It is the passion and the diversity of our fan base. They love football. Our game is so unpredictable. You saw it last night (in the Jets-Broncos game).
On having a number of great games on one Sunday:
That is what we love to have. Any given Sunday, somebody could win. That is what has happened in our league. Our league is so competitive now. Of the eight divisions last year, we would have six new division champions if things hold as they are today. The competitiveness is what the fans want, the unpredictable nature of our game.
On the work stoppage:
It was a difficult time. What was important to us was to deal with it outside of litigation and get back to the bargaining table. The key moment for us was when we got the principals back in the room. We had five owners, five players, DeMaurice Smith and myself and we were able to talk and listen to one another and structure something for both parties.
On talking to NBA Commissioner David Stern during the basketball league’s ongoing lockout:
I talk to David a little bit. I’ve said before, David is the dean of commissioners. I don’t have any advice for him. He has been through this and he understands this.
On if he has advice for NBA Commissioner Stern:
No, each situation is different. The unfortunate circumstance that is happening in the NBA right now is that it is getting back to litigation. These things are resolved through negotiation and through collective bargaining. That is where this will ultimately be resolved.
On returning to negotiations despite pending litigation:
In our case what happened was we got the five principals (from each side) in a room and said, ‘Listen, we have got to structure something here. It is going to end up being a bargained solution so let’s figure out a way to make this a win-win.’
On the host’s inability to watch Bengals games in the New York area:
We have to get you NFL Sunday Ticket so you can see every game. What I think has been the core foundation of our success is being available on free television. Every one of our games is on free television. That has allowed us to expand.
On HGH testing:
We had that as part of our collective bargaining agreement and we were committed to doing that by the start of the season. We would still like to do that, but the players continue to raise questions, which we want to have answers. We all want a valid test. We all want to make sure we have the best program.
This is important to the league for a variety of reasons. One is player safety. HGH is illegal. It can only be taken with a prescription. When people are taking it off the black market, they don’t know what they are putting in their bodies. The long-term health effects are certainly in question and concern me.
Second, is the message we are sending to young kids. If HGH is permissible at the NFL level, young kids think it is OK. We want to make a very clear position that it is not acceptable to the NFL.
Last but not least is the integrity of the game. We want the game to be played on a level playing field. We don’t want to force players to take HGH or performance enhancing drugs. If they want to play the game clean, they should. That’s the way we want it to be played.
On the owners’ strategic investment fund:
The ownership is putting together a venture fund that is going to be investing in new technology. It will be an exciting opportunity for not only ownership but we expect to bring players into it.
Miami Dolphins Chairman of the Board Stephen Ross: The NFL is probably the best brand in this country if not the world. It offers a lot of opportunities. How do you really capitalize on the value of that brand and grow it?
The first thing is you have to keep the quality of the brand strong. The quality of football is the core issue. We have to continue to be popular with the fans and make sure that we continue that deep fan base. Second, have to continue to make your products and your game available to the broadest possible audience. That goes back to free television.
We have some huge opportunities, both in the media world and also internationally. I think our game can go global. As new platforms come available to media, it is a great opportunity for the NFL.
On needing foreign countries to change the name of ‘soccer’:
I think we are going to lose that one, Joe (laughter). I think we are going to be called American football (laughter).
On international growth:
We have been playing internationally and we just got done with our fifth game in London. The reaction by the UK fans has been extraordinary.
On fans focusing on the Denver Broncos in order to watch QB Tim Tebow:
‘Tebow Time’ has clearly taken off. You saw that on the NFL Network last night. The game was unbelievable. He has got something special. People want to see more of it. We have those stories all across the league.
On if Cincinnati Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton is from Texas:
He did play down in Texas (at TCU). He is one of the great young quarterbacks. (Panthers QB) Cam Newton obviously is another great young quarterback. We have some great talent.
On the situation at Penn State:
I am following it. I don’t have any more information than any of us. I read it. It is a tragedy. You think about the victims and the families. That is where my thoughts are. It is a terrible story.
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