In the aftermath of the Chicago Bears’ 27-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, the sports media and fans began questioning the validity of Bears’ live broadcasts.
The Bears are a prime example of the live-broadcast phenomenon, but a new article by New York Mag writer John Barchard and co-author John M. Hickey will attempt to show that it’s a myth.
According to the article, the NFL’s commissioner’s office “has been reluctant to take the lead” in addressing the issue.
“We’ve tried to talk to the league and have been told by league officials that the live broadcasts are a big problem,” says Hickey, who is a professor at Boston University’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“But they have not listened to us, and have continued to insist on the broadcasts.”
So why the pushback?
“It’s a lot of people who are unhappy with the broadcasts,” Hickey says.
“The problem is that there’s a certain amount of arrogance and self-righteousness about the live broadcast.”
The NFL’s insistence on live broadcasts is largely due to the lack of revenue from advertising.
The NFL generates around $30 billion annually in ad revenue.
In addition, the league is one of the top-earning sports leagues in the world.
According the NFLPA, only six of the league’s 26 teams earn more than $500 million annually.
Even though the NFL is an increasingly lucrative industry, the media industry has also struggled financially in recent years.
According an ESPN.com article, in 2016, ESPN lost $1.2 billion in total revenue.
For a league that has become the NFL equivalent of Coca-Cola, the amount of money the league generates in ad money has declined by an astonishing $20 billion in the past year alone.
According Hickey’s article, a lot more is at stake when the NFL makes live broadcasts, which in turn impacts viewership.
“If the live feed is so terrible, then the viewership drops,” he says.
The lack of ad revenue, coupled with the league refusing to embrace live broadcasts as a way to generate revenue, has hurt the league.
“They don’t care about revenue,” Hodge says.
In other words, the viewership of the broadcast has declined.
“It has become a distraction,” Hiccups says.
Fans have been complaining about the quality of Bears games on broadcast and online platforms since the start of the 2017 season, with many complaining about bad camera angles, slow-motion replay and other issues.
“I can’t imagine that you would put this much thought into a game when you don’t want the fans to be disappointed,” says Mike Reiss, a senior producer for the Chicago-based sports site WGN.
“This is the most frustrating part of broadcasting in the NFL.”
While the live stream may have gotten a bad rap over the past couple of years, the Bears’ online broadcasts have been far better than the live feeds of the Packers and Packers fans in Chicago.
Bears fans have been able to watch the team’s games live on WGN-TV, which airs the Bears home games from Soldier Field in Chicago, the team home in Foxborough, Mass., and the team road games from Chicago Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In fact, there are only two other NFL teams in the league that stream live games online, the Green Bags and the Vikings.
And with a live feed, the fans can tune in whenever they want.
The fact that the Bears are able to do this despite the lack, and the NFL continuing to refuse, to address the live broadcasting problem has many fans questioning the league, including Bears owner Jerry Angelo.
“Every time we talk to Jerry, we get the same answer: ‘I don’t know if it’s fair to say, but we have to,'” Hickey said.
“He wants to protect the livelihood of the Bears, and so we keep telling him, ‘Don’t say that.'”
The NFL has been hesitant to take up the live streaming issue, however.
Hiccup is a former NFL player himself.
He was suspended for the entirety of last season for violating the league rules for failing to report an alleged sexual assault.
“So they can’t get rid of the games because they don’t like what they’re seeing,” Hiccup says.
While the NFL does have the authority to fine teams, the penalty for live streaming is typically the same as a regular season ban, Hickey writes.
“At a minimum, a team is expected to pay a fine of at least $500,000 per game, and if the fines exceed $500M, then it’s suspended for one year,” Hicy says.
If the NFL did remove live streaming, Hicc up would have no choice but to change his mind about the game.
“Even if they had removed it, they would have to pay the fine.
If they didn’t have the