Not a good idea to boot the Lions out of the Thanksgiving slot - TV execs

The Lions are the NFL’s only winless side of this campaign. They’re one of four sides never to make the Super Bowl. The last time the side won a playoff contest, "Roseanne" was America’s most-viewed sitcom, and Michael Jackson’s "Black or White" led the pop charts.

The Lions have been so unskilled for so long, raising questions as to why the NFL insists on showing their games to a national audience each Thanksgiving instead of replacing the Lions with a bigger fixture? Why can’t the NFL find a more compelling contest to kick off the holiday tripleheader on Thursday than the wretched Detroit Lions hosting Chicago Bears?

Television chiefs universally insisted that the league actually has very good reason for not halting tradition, which was supported by Watching the sport is now so ingrained in the Thanksgiving culture of the NFL’s annual holiday tripleheader generates huge viewership no matter the quality of the game on the screen.

Jay Rosenstein said a former vice president of programming at CBS Sports. "You don't want to take a great matchup and put it in the Lions’ slot because there's no reason to, You’re not going to do much bigger numbers on Thanksgiving with a better matchup. The audience that is going to watch football is already there."

While sports media gurus agree that a top contest might produce higher ratings than the Detroit Lions in that Thanksgiving time slot, they insisted the downside outweighs the moderate payoff. Not only would the Television audience rating for the Lions contest fall off a cliff were it on another day, but the league would also be wasting a high-profile matchup that instead could do big figures on a typical Monday or even Sunday night, which could be important to real money casinos usa.

Jon Lewis, who has analyzed sports viewership, figures since 2006 said, "If you’re the NFL, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to use a Lions game that would otherwise get distributed to 10 percent of the country on a Sunday afternoon?"

"Why would you pass up the chance for a matchup like that to get 24 million viewers and rank among the most-watched games of the season?

"The NFL knows there are certain days that are going to get a great number no matter what. You don’t have to use your best matchup on opening night. You don’t have to use your best matchup on Thanksgiving. And you don’t have to use your best matchup on Christmas. Those are days when you want to put a good game on — and certainly, the NFL would prefer if the Lions were good — but you can put pretty much anything on in those windows and do really well."

The Detroit Lions owe their Thanksgiving staple status to a former franchise owner’s marketing genius.

In 1934, George Albert Richards, a radio executive, bought the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, transferred the side to the Motor City, and changed its name to Detroit Lions. Frustrated that his side hadn’t gotten enough attention from supporters or local media - newspapers, George Albert Richards conceived the idea to host the reigning NFL champion Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving so as to drum up interest.

A season-high audience of 25,000 poured into the venue - University of Detroit stadium – to catch a glimpse of the 10-1 Lions and 11-0 Bears matchup for first place in the NFL’s Western Division. He also negotiated with NBC Radio to have 94 stations cover the encounter and announcers Graham McNamee and Don Wilson behind the mic.

Though the Chicago Bears rallied for a 19-16 win en route to an undefeated regular campaign, the Detroit Lions had launched the tradition of the Thanksgiving football game in Detroit. The Lions have since had a Thanksgiving matchup every year, except from 1939-1944 due to World War II.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.