Former ESPN head honcho John Skipper has had a lot of big ideas and theories about the future of American sports over the years. One that he’s really got stuck in his craw is the idea that the NFL should consider turning the Super Bowl into a pay-per-view event. It’s a notion he teased out last year and he still thinks the league is missing out on “billions” by not doing it that way.
Wednesday, Skipper stopped by The Big Suey Podcast on Dan Le Batard’s podcast network where he provided some details on why he thinks the NFL should forgo the 113 million viewers that tuned in last Sunday in order to charge money for the right to watch.
“I assume that there are some number of people that’s the only game they watched the entire year, and they don’t want to be left out. That’s a pretty great place to be for a live event,” Skipper said. “50 percent of the country does not want to be left out.”
“It leads me to a slightly different discussion; if half the country is watching your game and they’re watching it for free, how many of those people would pay a big sum of money to watch the game?”
When asked if he thought the NFL would consider a price point for the Super Bowl, he seemed to have a range in mind.
“If you just assume that half of the people watched would still figure out a way to watch if it costs $200-$250 for a household, you’re just going to have more of what David said, bigger parties,” Skipper said. “I don’t know how many households, I assume it’s half the households who watched; if it was only a quarter of them are willing to pay $20 to have a party at their house, it would still get you into the billions of dollars for a single game, and that is the single best way I can think of for the NFL to increase their annual revenue take for their clubs, is to make the Super Bowl a Pay-Per-View event.”
There are plenty of reasons why the NFL doesn’t need to consider something like this anytime soon, especially since audience sizes are once again going up. It’s also a fairly craven way to look at the NFL’s crown jewel event, which attracts millions of casual viewers, including those who don’t care about football but will tune in for the halftime show or commercials.
Reducing everything to a PPV that costs a significant chunk of money turns the game into a different experience. Not to say that there aren’t a lot of people who would pay to watch, because they’d have to, but the cost-benefit analysis simply doesn’t hold up, at least not anytime soon.