Saturday, January 04, 2014

The bottom line

The NFL has huge challenges ahead. What we're seeing this weekend is the proverbial "tip of the iceberg."

3 of the 4 playoff teams had to get two extensions in order to avoid blackouts. The blackout itself indicates the home team didn't sell out a playoff game! And one of those teams was Green Bay?! Are you kidding me?

So here you have Steven Ross who didn't sell out a single game this year or last year, and I think only sold out one the year before that.

The relaxed rules on blackouts, and his working with other organizations to buy up any remaining tickets ensured they were on tv.

But this has bigger implications. How does the nfl and smaller markets like Miami make a go of it? HD tvs make the experience great at home. And being able to watch any game - or red zone - means you don't have to watch your local team if they're lousy, have a bad matchup, or are simply blacked out.

I heard Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkle speak about this during the season, and it's clear that no one has answers. But he and others in his role are trying to figure out how to make the fan experience better so people will want to come out. Because clearly winning isn't doing it.

He threw some crazy ideas out there - the one that stuck with me was group seating perhaps like you're at a table at a sports bar so you can interact and turn to face each other. Don't know how it would work, but it's an interesting concept in general.

As for the blackout, that's an old term that will probably go away as early as next season. The owners want their product on tv, even without selling out. Because at least there's advertising revenue to be had; even if the economics aren't as good as ticket sales.

And that leads us right back around to Steve Ross. He's going to protect the brand, put butts in seats, and move merchandise. End of story. It's about maximizing his profits.

So if Ryan Tannehill's jersey was in the top 20 in sales through the entire nfl, well then he has to figure out a way to keep it that way. Or find a way to get another player in *that* elite status.

So when he says he has a lot to think about, it's not necessarily about wins and losses - it's about the bottom line. What can he do to ensure there is revenue growth year after year. This is a business, and nothing more.

Cynical? Of course. At least we get to enjoy the output of the business. Well, enjoy to a point.

2 comments:

  1. Good post on a good topic.

    Looking at what ticket prices for the NFL have done over the past ten years, it is no wonder this is a problem. Its like the NFL owners never realized the economy tanked, and, I don't care what they keep saying, things haven't gotten much better yet. For most, the question is "Why spend that kind of dough when the HDTV look like it does".

    With the FCC looking to scrap blackout rules: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/fcc-proposes-ending-television-sports-blackout-rules-nfl-211321820--nfl.html we may finally see ticket prices come down (or at least hold steady) just to make a good background for TV.

    Miami has an even bigger problem here. The stadium is now getting old by NFL standards, and, as anyone who has been to the old OB knows, it is not a great place to visually see a game. Seats too far off the field, and there is a quietness about the place even when fans are screaming. I'm not sure how Ross will put fans in the seats.

    As for your point on keeping players that sell jerseys - not cynical at all! This has been the case for years. It does provide an incentive to gave a good team.

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  2. David, your Saban headache and sour time posts were funny--but otherwise your posts are reeking of self pity lately. No one wants to tune in and read the thoughts of that jilted girlfriend who just can't let go. We're all hurting right now. Step away from the keyboard for a few months, it'll do you some good.

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