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CBS CEO: NFL is “still the best thing on TV”

Florida v UConn

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: Chairman and CEO of CBS Les Moonves (L) and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones look on during the NCAA Men’s Final Four Semifinal at AT&T Stadium between the Florida Gators and the Connecticut Huskies on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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At a time when CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus has questioned whether the NFL has oversaturated the airwaves with its product, his boss has made it clear that there’s a good reason for so much pro football: “It’s still the best thing on TV.”

CBS CEO Les Moonves made that remark during a quarterly conference call to discuss corporate earnings, via SportsBusiness Daily. “Ratings are still extraordinarily high,” Moonves added.

Still, Moonves acknowledged that the simmering (for now) anthem controversy and the issue of oversaturation may be causing a dip in viewership.

“The ratings are down a bit this year; obviously, there were political issues that came up with the kneeling during the national anthem,” Moonves said, also pointing to the “abundance of football available for fans -- which might be contributing to the lower ratings.”

But even with lower ratings, the NFL is still the one thing that can bring millions together consistently to watch the same channel at the same time.

“There’s a lot of product out there,” Moonves said. “But it is still a great product.”

Moonves is right about that. But the clear, open waters through which the SS NFL had been sailing have quickly turned choppy, and many think it will get worse before it gets better. Until the anthem controversy is permanent solved and, more importantly in the view of some (like the guy in the photo with Moonves), the dynamics that allowed the issue to fester are identified and rectified, there’s reason for concern -- especially since there’s really no reason that the best thing on TV should be struggling to match the kind of numbers that it was generating only two years ago.