The NFL and MLB want to expand their playoffs for one simple reason: $$$

Fans’ opinions on possible changes depend on them: some may want to watch more games, while others may be traditionalist and resistant to change. But for leagues and their broadcast partners, longer post-motifs mean one thing.

“Money. It’s a very simple answer,” Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand told CNN. “Money.”

Reportedly, the owners want to expand the playoffs from six conference teams to seven. Only the first seed of each conference will receive a goodbye in the first round, instead of the first two suits, and this is how it is currently managed. They would also like to increase the number of regular season games from 16 to 17 and decrease the number of pre-season games from 4 to 3, according to ESPN.

Changes are also underway for MLB, according to the New York Post. He reported that MLB is considering bringing the number of teams entering its postseason from 5 to 7 in each league by adding two more wildcard teams.

The club with the best record in each league will receive a goodbye in the wildcard round and move on to the Division series, by mail. “The other two division winners and the wild record with the next best record would host all three games in a best-of-three wild card round,” the Post reported.

Reportedly, the MLB would implement a live playoff selection television program in which teams select opponents on the last day of the regular season.

CNN contacted the NFL and MLB offices for comment.

Leagues will earn a lot …

Both leagues could be loved American institutions for millions of fans, but they are also meant to make money. It is clear why the NFL and its owners would be in favor of adding more teams to the playoffs. It means more games and more games means more money.

Super Bowl LIV recorded an average of 102 million viewers

“From a management perspective, you want more inventory to sell,” said Andrew Brandt, former vice president of the Green Bay Packers and executive director of the Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at the University of Villanova. “And just think about all the ancillary revenue opportunities around an extra game – be it home stadium suites, marketing, hotels, economic impact across the city.”

TV networks also benefit, Brandt said. “These NFL games,” he said, “is the only programming absolutely to be seen on television right now.”

The NFL had a good year for evaluations. The 2019 season was the most watched NFL in three years and maintained the momentum of the 2018 season. The number of viewers increased by about 5% compared to 2018, with around 16.5 million viewers among the league’s television partners. .

The postseason was also a success. The Wild Card weekend has seen its most spectators in the past four years and the number of spectators for the divisional round has increased by 2% over the previous year. It culminated in Super Bowl LIV, with an average of 102 million viewers on different channels and streaming points.
NFL agreements with NBC, Fox and CBS last until 2022 and its agreement with ESPN lasts until 2021. And the League would like this agreement to be concluded before negotiating rights agreements, Ourand said.

“NFL programming is the most popular programming genre on television, and it’s not even close,” he said. “For television networks, being able to get more NFL programming is great news for them.”

MLB has similar motivations for expanding its playoffs, Ourand said.

“In all these leagues, the playoffs are the top rated games of the year. So if the playoffs expand, your products will be much more valuable.”

MLB is considering the new playoff format and live TV selection, the report says

“Obviously the incentive here is that it would bring a lot more money with TV offers,” said Ginny Searle, an associate editor of the Baseball Prospectus, who provides baseball statistics and analysis.

The changes reported by MLB will go into effect before the 2022 season, Searle said, shortly after the championship broadcast agreement with ESPN and Turner expires.

His current deal with Fox covers most of the playoffs, but changing the format “would basically add a new round on which there may be offers, there may be rights,” said Searle. And the proposed playoff selection television program could offer more licensing opportunities.

… but it’s not that great for gamers

But the NFL and MLB will have to convince their players. The changes in both leagues will need their approval and it could be a difficult sale.

“They are going to play one more game,” said Ourand of the NFL players, “and it remains to be seen how they will be compensated.”

The NFL players’ union declined to comment, citing the ongoing negotiations, but released a statement on Friday saying “Our player leadership is looking forward to meeting again with the NFL leadership next week before. that the Council take a vote shortly afterwards “.

There are factors beyond compensation, including the toll the game suffers on the bodies of NFL players.

Brandt pointed out that players have opposed the addition of games in recent years, “because of the impact of an injury, because of the awareness that there are so many players who are hurting themselves right now, whether they are physical injury or head injuries. ”

That sentiment was picked up on Twitter by the former NFL receiver Donté Stallworth, who said he was “100% against” adding games to the season. But if the league wanted more games, “every acquired player should receive lifetime health care instead of the current 5 years after retiring.”

“Hose terms (T) shouldn’t be negotiable,” he added.

MLB players are in a similar situation, Searle said. In theory, more money would flow to players if the enlarged league were playoffs, he said.

But “so far most of the reaction we’ve heard from the players has been dismissive, if not downright ridiculous,” he said. “And I think that kind of shows you that they aren’t seeing the obvious benefits.”

“There is no big ticket that says, we get this and you get that,” said Searle.

The MLB Players Association did not respond to a request for comment, but executive director Tony Clark previously said: “It is worth discussing all measures that aim to boost competition. For the expansion of the playoffs, the devil of those discussions will be in detail. “

CNN’s Frank Pallotta, David Close, Ray Sanchez and Wayne Sterling contributed to this report.


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