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What Would Millennial Sensitive Programming Mean for An Arena Football League Team?

March 23, 2016
Well - just read some of the articles in the Washington Post.

Young people will spend money on experiences and less and less on stuff and material goods. Malls are struggling, the best ones will be reinvented as experience and "foodie" centers, bringing people in as groups and then allowing them to go shopping together.

Young people don’t cook at home, they eat out a lot--they travel a lot, they want to experience new out of comfort zone moments. Delivery of food stuffs, dinner, clothing and other basics via subscriptions with liberal return policies really matter now. 

A trip with friends to an exotic locale is way more important than a thing to own. Published pictures of the trip get way more likes and views than a picture of a material thing.

Young people love real time communications. And speed. No one wants to wait for anything any longer. This generation also enjoys serendipity, and random, never before experienced  things, ala pop up stores, food trucks, monthly delivery of boxes of stuff from strangers that give you new items to wear via subscription.

Wireless and untethered communications is key; wire line and cable seem constraining.

Young people will pay $99 a month to exercise together -- or take a cooking class -- or go speed dating, or be co-mingled with friends in a new environment, but less and less will pay $99 per month to watch television alone at home. In many cases, young people in cities don’t own televisions, they don’t subscribe to cable. And they certainly don’t subscribe to print newspapers or magazines.  They replicate their dorm experiences at college. The live their lives online, and they are social and mobile.

One day go visit a college campus and count how many televisions are hung on a wall in a dorm room.

Gratefully though, for the majority of the traditional media consuming public, we know more and more that the most valued television programming in cable is real time, live professional sports. It is the only communal, bring audiences together, live experience, that people value!  It is almost like people are paying for a season ticket at a discounted price to watch these games live and replicate an in-arena communal experience. And people use their second screen to communicate real time while they are watching the game to replicate that social experience. Professional sports programming is very valuable as we have seen time and time again.

The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL are foundational and popular programming for broadcast, cable and regional sports networks. So, with all of that in mind, I do think the AFL is a great place to start to be sensitive to a new community of people that love experiences, and don’t have cable television installed in their rental apartments. They love real time, they love multi-screen, they love speed and all things digital.  They love to travel. They want to subscribe to experiences first with video and communications aside and a part of it.  Young people want to hang out with other young people.

Hence, the AFL allows us to be NOT normal football; NOT normal television. Not like sports as we’ve known it at present.

So don’t expect normal and traditional NFL like experiences, or announcers steeped in NFL tradition, or coaches, or game day presentation like normal football.  And delivery of the media like traditional football.

The AFL is populated with great athletes who played football in high school and college and some even in the NFL. The skillset is world-class, and the game is played seriously and intensely competitively. But the game is obviously different. It’s played indoors, the field of play is shaped differently, and there are fewer players per side on each team. And as Derrick Brooks said at our press conference, “if we can hold them to 60, we can win this game.”

This is a new day and a new way and this AFL experience must connect with a new audience, NOT primarily an NFL football audience.  Although if you love NFL football, I do believe you can really enjoy an AFL game.

We hope to make our AFL team very family and fan friendly and young person oriented. We also want to be very focused on women and young girls in our audience.  The play on the field will be great and high level, very athletic and full of speed and hitting and scoring, much like a video game!

We may even want to show how much time is actually spent playing the game in arena - much like Google shows you how many listings come up and how fast and compare that to a traditional football game that takes 3 hours to play and generally has less than 15 minutes of actual real live action.

The NBA and NHL are increasingly popular as live experience events because of the nonstop action compared to some other professional sports, I might add.

As an example, In the NFL, a player takes a handoff, runs out of bounds, and that is 8 seconds of action. Then there are 30 seconds to huddle up. It is a perfect TV sport; announcers talk about the play that just ran and predict what will happen on next play. Do it again and again. In the AFL, there is no out of bounds. And the clock ticks thru, so no 30-second huddles to call a play or rest up. It’s a game designed for the digital age, not the TV age.

We also want to drive innovation with technology; cameras on jerseys and helmets, every player can one day be miced up; use of virtual reality for all so fans can get into the game, video and live games only available via OTT on devices and phones, with subscription packages to travel with the team as a part of the experience and get the video to watch games as a part of the overall offering. Data is generated in real time for consumption at games and at homes in a much more fan friendly way. And real time communications on phones and devices will allow for real time gaming one day soon.

We will have to become as adept at programming travel packages, or meet and greets, or pop up game day unique and fun experiences in arena as we are at building a world -class play off caliber AFL team! We need to do both; we must be great at both. We must build a great AFL team as well as a unique millennial sensitive programming experience.

The players will be a part of the community. They will mingle before and after games with fans.

We will use our digital platforms, such as Monumental Sports Network, and our digital signs in a much more communal and unique way for our AFL team. Inside and outside of the building.

The AFL team will allow us to innovate, to experiment, to have fun, to help relaunch the league and game to a much bigger and a newer audience than before. We also will create new jobs, and provide new career paths for people who love sports and want to jump on the AFL future growth.

I am excited about the potential and promise of the “New.” It is time for next generation sensitivity to run a sports team, and connect with young people.  We can reinvent indoor football together. We can provide programming and entertainment for young and old and for people who love the NFL, and for millennials who may never have attended a game. Come along for the ride. Put in your reservation for season tickets here.