NFL Badly Needs A 21st Century Televising Strategy | Forbes

By a 1970s standard, the NFL is widely accessible given that local market NFL games are available over broadcast TV, subject to the NFL’s attendance blackout rules (which have been loosened in recent years). By a 21st century standard of accessibility, the league gets a C-minus. Out-of-market games can be accessed via satellite on DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket or via the online streaming version that requires no Satellite hookup.

These services run in the $250 range for an entire season. That price may work great for capturing revenue from avid fans during times of growing league popularity as it allows devoted fans to self-identify their willingness to pay. It also avoids cannibalizing the local market away from the broadcast networks.

The trouble is that the strategy ignores the value of building fan interest and loyalty over the long haul. Instead, it takes these loyalties as given. The short-run strategy is out-of-step with the world that has emerged with NFL viewership plateauing and now declining.

The tradeoffs of pricing strategies that fixate on short-term revenue versus strategies that look to build a larger and loyal customer base are some of the most difficult to manage. At the extremes when businesses aren’t sure if they will be around next year or when the customer base is skyrocketing, the choice is obvious – max out on revenue now.

In the case of the NFL, which will almost certainly be around for years to come but is leaking its fan base, the tradeoff is much trickier. The networks that have signed contracts running for a few years are mostly interested in revenue now and will balk at strategies that might lower their advertising revenue, even if it builds viewers ten years down the road.

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NFL Badly Needs A 21st Century Televising Strategy.