Football is fading from public interest, as we're all now hearing.
The Steelers, specifically, are losing the faith of their fans because they've become a civic farce, a circus. Been hearing that one for weeks.
You know, I've got a hockey game to cover tonight, Penguins vs. Hurricanes at PPG Paints Arena. By the weekend, I'll be in Bradenton for the reporting of the Pirates' pitchers and catchers. But for right now, given the events of the weekend and with my mind still on the NFL, I'm in the mood for a little more football.
And, for this column, with all the misconceptions it seems are floating everywhere, the myth-busting format probably will work best ...
[caption id="attachment_770097" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Tap to enlarge. - ROB ULLMAN / DKPS[/caption]
Myth: The NFL is in decline.
Reality: Uh, no.
Maybe it's for the purpose of playing literal political football, to further one ideology or the other, but people sure were quick to pounce on the initial word yesterday that CBS' overnight ratings for Super Bowl LIII were the lowest since Steelers-Cardinals a decade ago.
Three problems with that:
1. The fluctuation is minimal, as illustrated by this graphic of the past 20 Super Bowls:
2. More viewers than ever are watching via online streams. Between CBS and Yahoo! offering the Super Bowl for free on their respective apps, the game was watched on 7.5 million unique devices -- including my iPhone, I might add -- and that represented a dramatic increase of 20 percent from last year. In any given minute, 2.6 million people were watching streams. The latter figure is growing 31 percent year over year.
3. It's still by far the biggest event in our country.
Not sporting event. Anything event.
This Super Bowl will wind up the most watched thing on TV by a degree of tens of millions. And the NFL as a whole continues to dominate our lives like nothing else in America. In 2018, 46 of the top 50 programs on TV were NFL games.
Arguing that the NFL is uncool is tantamount to arguing that the Beatles weren't really successful musicians.