A huge portion of the regular season games are at the point of unwatchable and it's not just the Jets who suck. Ratings for 2012 were down 5% over 2011. Empty seats are becoming the norm for the NFL.
I disagree. There is more parity today than ever before in the NFL. Popularity is on the rise due to the rise of fantasy football as well. Gambling in general is a huge driver of football ratings and that isnt going away. I don't believe that football ratings are going down because of new rules or anything like that. I don't really believe that they are going down at all but if they were its likely due to cable and internet and other entertainment options. As for empty seats I'm sure the rise in ticket prices would be much more to blame than anything else if true.
In my opinion, the greatest threat to the future of professional football is the potential of a declining talent pool.
As the scientific understanding of head injuries in football is brought to the spotlight, more and more athletically talented children will be pushed toward alternative sports by their parents. Even if this phenomenon occurs at a relatively low percentage, the long term ramifications are considerable and very real.
This is one of the more significant reasons why Goodell is making such a strong push toward a "safer" league. It's about perception as much as it is about reality, and the NFL does not want to see tomorrow's best athletes start to get funneled into baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, etc.