“7 hours of commercial-free football… starts now!” Scott Hanson’s voice booms through homes
across the U.S. at 1:00 PM EST sharp, just as the first set of Sunday games are kicking off in
the National Football League.
NFL Redzone is a new way to watch football on Sundays. It provides commercial-free, whip-
around coverage of the NFL. Its proudest claim is that it plays “every touchdown from every
game.” It is one of the ways the NFL is combating the constant viewership decline it has
experienced over the past decade. While you can attribute a steep drop-off in the past two
years to controversy surrounding the national anthem, the NFL has experienced a significant
decline in ratings dating back to 2013, especially among age groups younger than 50 years old.
NFL Redzone got its start it 2009. While the NFL does not release ratings for Redzone, its
growth in popularity in the past few years has been undeniable. It has turned its host Scott
Hanson into something of a celebrity, garnering him a hefty 250,000 Twitter followers.
Why not just watch a regular game? Only on Redzone can you find a commercial-free format,
the double, quadruple, and #octobox to watch multiple games at once, and their weekly
conclusion, the “touchdown montage.” Not to mention, the NFL markets Redzone to a specific
group. According to the NFL website, “NFL RedZone is the perfect fantasy companion, allowing
fans to improve their fantasy roster.” This group is anything but niche.
In 2003, there were an estimated 15.2 million fantasy sports players in the United States in
Canada (FSTA). By 2008, that number nearly doubled: 29.9 million. Last year, that number
reached 59.3 million. Fantasy sports, especially fantasy football, is a hobby that attracts a
whopping 21% of the U.S. population. This cultural phenomenon is changing the way sports
fans interact with the game they love. In the case of the NFL, fantasy football is just becoming a
part of the game.
In fantasy football, the outcomes of individual games hold no value. All that matters are
individual player performances, so it makes sense that Redzone’s “every touchdown” approach
is attractive to fantasy football participants.
While fantasy football players make up much of Redzone’s viewership, there is yet another
reason that Redzone has become so popular. It appeals to a younger demographic. The
commercial-free aspect of Redzone is simply an extension of the Netflix era. People will pay
extra for their content to be ad-free, as proven by streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. The
same holds for football. Why not pay a few dollars a month for constant gameplay, as opposed
to sitting through TV timeouts and halftime-breaks?
Not only that, Redzone provides football for the short attention span. Studies have disagreed
over whether younger demographics truly have shorter attention spans, but the idea still holds
true. Social media is becoming a preferred news source. People would rather binge watch The
Office’s 20-minute episodes than sit through an equal-length movie. Fans are finding it more
difficult to sit through entire football games. Redzone, which flips between games on average
every 68 seconds, is much more appealing for the younger NFL fan.
If the NFL wants to continue to sit in their throne as the most popular sport in the U.S., it must
continue to pay attention to the needs of their young demographics, and it should adjust their
content accordingly. NFL Redzone is certainly a step in the right direction.
USBC Journal Writer
Class of 2022