Week 10 in the NFL -- with a huge Seahawks-Patriots prime-time matchup, as well as Cowboys-Steelers and other marquee games -- is pretty critical for ratings purposes. The league has been concerned with a ratings dip thus far in 2016, simultaneously saying there isn't any real panic but also acknowledging that a ratings drop isn't a good thing.
Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in New York, Brian Rolapp, the man in charge of NFL Media, said the league is considering some relatively drastic changes in order to make it more appealing to fans.
"If we don't keep an open mind about preserving some flexibility, any measure of success you have can go away pretty quickly," Rolapp said this week, via Broadcasting and Cable. "We look constantly at improving the rules of the game, the safety of the game and the quality of the game -- even if that means changing things that some people think are sacred cows."
Rolapp didn't specify what "sacred cows" he was referring to, but he did acknowledge the NFL was considering the possibility of speeding up games and altering the pace of play in order to shorten games.
"Could [NFL games] be shorter? Could they be better? Are replays too long?" Rolapp said. "We are constantly look at those things to make the pace of the games more interesting."
Sometimes games are too long. There's a million different reasons why, but shortening games, and therefore shortening the window required by consumers to watch football, could potentially keep more people engaged.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a New York Times conference this week, said the league wants to get rid of "dead time" during games.
"We want to take as much what we call dead time, non-action out of the game, so that we can make the game more exciting," Goodell said.
Additionally, Rolapp said the NFL will certainly consider -- and is "looking very hard" -- at changing the way commercials are woven into games.
"In a world where Netflix has no commercials and consumers are used to 15 seconds of of pre-roll, is there a better way to do commercials with our broadcast partners?" Rolapp asked.
Of note from a consumer side of things: NBC used picture-in-picture advertisements during the Ryder Cup to keep coverage going. It was a revelation.
Many folks have come up with reasons for the drop in ratings. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman thinks it's because the NFL has taken the fun out of the game. Some believe it's because of on-field protests, including President-elect Donald Trump, who also recently said the election is causing people to tune out of football.
"I don't know if you know, but the NFL is way down in their ratings," Trump said. "And you know why? Two reasons: Number one is this politics they're finding is a much rougher game than football, and more exciting, and this -- honestly we've taken a lot of people away from the NFL."
With the election over, this week offers the possibility for a big bounce-back in viewership. But it might just be a lost year. According to Rolapp, ratings have been down for the NFL in every single election year, including a 10 percent drop in 2000.
"This election is so unique, and people are going to talk about it for a long time," Rolapp said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we finish this year down."