Next year's lockout will be killing some very big TV ratings

Both FOX and NBC are bragging about huge ratings for their NFL broadcasts over the weekend. FOX says that the Eagles/Packers 4:15 p.m. Sunday game was the most-watched Week 1 game in network history. NBC says that the Redskins/Cowboys Sunday nighter was the most-watched opening-week primetime game in 14 years.

Really, there's not even any discernable reason for those games to draw huge audiences. They're attractive games and popular franchises, sure, but none of them had can't-miss storylines or any of the four or five most popular players in the league.

So what's this mean? Just the NFL's audience, which is already mind-blowingly huge, is still growing. Even in today's fragmented pop culture atmosphere, with the number of entertainment options growing exponentially, the NFL manages to consume more and more of us. The list of the most popular things in the world goes something like:

1. Oxygen
2. Food
3. The NFL
4. Water
5. Chumlee

Also, it means that next year's inevitable work stoppage will be murdering one of the world's most valuable television packages. Even the loss of these ratings and the mountains of money they generate won't deter the owners and players from whining and bitching their way into depriving us all of sweet, magical football.

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