An idea for how to give the NFL the Bud Light treatment

If you're like me, you've never forgiven the NFL players for dissing the National Anthem by kneeling during it before games.

If you're like me, you've never forgiven the NFL for letting the players do it while on the job.  And no, it's not just patriotic first responders like military, fire, and police who should be offended; it's every American who recognizes and shows respect for our country.  Why isn't kneeling so crucial anymore, when a few years ago they all just had to do it?  Are our country's ills all fixed up now?

If you're like me, you're not happy with the NFL emblazoning Black Lives Matters emblems and slogans in the end zones and on the backs of helmets, not only because you just want to watch sports, not politics, but also because BLM is a corrupt, pro-Marxist organization that promotes violence, death, and destruction to suit its goals — not exactly the values you cherish.  The NFL donates a ton of money, too.  It is essentially giving BLM mafia protection money and exposure so as not to be targeted.

If you're like me, you find it hard to give up following the games (and for some, other aspects, such as Fantasy Football and gambling).  Despite the NFL's best efforts to make the game less exciting (e.g., by tinkering with the kickoff using specious arguments about safety), it's still the best game around.  Even from a social aspect, it is hard to stop watching and remain out of the loop when most of our friends and coworkers are engaged.

If you're like me, you still want to do something about it when the NFL tramples over your values.

I have an idea.  In response to the question, "How does the NFL know how many people watch a game?," ChatGPT gives the following answer:

The National Football League (NFL) uses a variety of methods to determine the number of people who watch a game. One of the most common methods is through Nielsen ratings, which track the number of viewers who watch a game on television. The NFL also tracks online streaming views, and surveys fans to get a sense of how many people are watching a game. Additionally, the NFL may use data from social media and other sources to gauge the popularity of a game. All of these methods are used together to give the NFL a sense of how many people are watching a game.

It seems there are some chinks in the Nielsen ratings' armor in that there is some ambiguity as to how many viewers there are.  You can read the details here.  If you watch the game on anything other than television — e.g., smartphones and internet streaming services — the accuracy goes down.  Similarly, Nielsen has trouble "measuring television audiences outside homes, such as college dormitories, transport terminals, barsprisons and other public places where television is frequently viewed, often by large numbers of people in a common setting."  Some media, such as iTunes, Hulu, and YouTube, don't offer the demographics Nielsen needs.

There seems to be a tug-of-war between new technology inhibiting Nielsen's data-gathering and Nielsen's efforts to close the gap through strategic acquisitions of companies that track data in various ways.  The current state of affairs is that Nielsen can

count digital viewers in audience and demographic reports but is unable to do so under the current set of rules devised by networks and advertising industries last revised in 2006. As such, Nielsen can only count viewership for television-originated broadcasts, and must exclude viewers who watch programs on digital platforms if the program does not have an identical advertising load or a linear watermark.

So here's the plan for everyone who sympathizes.  Don't respond to NFL surveys.  Don't participate in Nielsen's surveys or passive monitoring if asked.  Don't watch NFL games by yourself on television.  Instead, join a large crowd so they don't know how many of you are watching, or else use technology Nielsen and the NFL have trouble monitoring.

I may not have it all exactly right, and this may be a fluid situation, but I'm sure others more knowledgeable can devise an effective plan.

You may say this will hurt Nielsen more than the NFL.  But if the NFL does not have an accurate count of how many are watching, its revenue from ads can only go down.  Maybe then it will apologize and vow never to do what it did ever again.  Well, maybe not, but then we'll make it pay.  If this treatment is not quite Bud Light, at least it's Bud Light lite.

W.A. Eliot is a pseudonym.

Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

If you experience technical problems, please write to