Mark Cuban thinks the NFL's greed will quickly lead to its downfall.
The Dallas Mavericks owner discussed the league in a pregame conversation with reporters on Sunday.
"I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. When pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I'm just telling you, when you got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns against you."
Cuban was talking about the league's new Thursday night television deal that will put games on CBS. His point is valid — not about the hogs getting slaughtered, unless he's talking about the Washington Redskins' 2013 offensive line — but about people always turning against the king. History has showed this again and again, whether its in politics, sports, entertainment or corporations. Nothing stays on top forever.
Football is the most popular thing in America because it's the greatest spectator sport and offers so many ways to be a fan (team allegiance, player allegiance, fantasy, gambling, enjoyment of the game, etc.). But it's foolish to think its popularity isn't aided by its exclusivity.
From the start of September through the start of February, there are 21 NFL Sundays out of 22 weekends. There are primetime games on Monday and Thursday, a few special games littered through the schedule, two Saturdays of playoffs and that's it. The season is a perfect, compact window. It was better before the Thursday games that many ignore, but still a reasonable schedule that always leaves fans wanting more. But the NFL isn't satisfied.
There's no break anymore. It's football 365/24/7. The offseason stretches from the end of the Super Bowl to the start of training camp. Recent ideas, some of which have been enacted, such as Thursday Night Football, a three-day NFL draft in May, expansion of the playoffs, expansion to London or Los Angeles and an 18-game season all threaten to give fans too much of a good thing. You can oversaturate the market. Cuban knows it.
"They're trying to take over every night of TV. And initially, it'll be the biggest rating thing there is. Then, if they get Saturday, now they're impacting college. And then if they go to Wednesday, at some point, people get sick of it."
There's a certain richness to Cuban complaining about the NFL trying to take over every night of television. His team plays in the league that runs from October through June and has a playoffs that lasts slightly longer than the gestation period of small mammals. Be careful of throwing basketballs from your glass-enclosed basketball court.
Still, Cuban's completely right. As anyone who's recently been to an all-you-can eat dessert bar knows, you can absolutely have too much of a good thing. The NFL is toeing that line.
It's not irresponsible of the league to expand things. The NFL would be crazy to ignore all potential revenue streams that will grow its business. You need to be innovative like Netflix, not stagnant like Blockbuster. It's when you spread yourself too thin or oversaturate that the problems begin.
If the NFL's growth ends at Thursday games and expanded playoffs, there shouldn't be a backlash. If 18 games, more than 32 teams and a season that goes until late February is in the cards, then Cuban's vision may come true. The question for the NFL is, when does good business become bad business?