The League

David Carter
Sports Business Expert

David Carter

Executive Director, USC Sports Business Institute

Step 1: Channel MNF

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Successfully penetrating new markets seldom happens over night. Fan consumption patterns, the supply and demand for sports and entertainment, and appreciating 'how business gets done' in foreign markets all take time to understand. The NFL has certainly made great strides in each of these areas as it has methodically gone about building interest in the league over the last several years. Hosting pre-season contests abroad, and now regular season games and, perhaps some day, a Super Bowl in London represents a roll out strategy that will work for the league's business partners.

While building this interest, the League should take a page out of its own playbook by revisiting what made Monday Night Football such an enormous success. The positioning of those games was different as the NFL moved into primetime; the telecasts were more instructional in order to capture the interest of casual fans who may have been unaware of the sport's nuances, and featured compelling elements of the host city - broadcasting these municipal attributes to a national audiences. Games were seen as celebrations, featuring football, entertainment, and community - and the fans responded, elevating Monday Night Football to a status once thought impossible.

But more will be required than simply replicating the Monday Night Football approach. Building long term interest requires that the NFL brand is squarely positioned and differentiated from others. It mandates that the League understands what it is that European fans find of interest in American football, and then build upon those specific interests over time. The NFL cannot prosper abroad if all that exists is a passing curiosity about the game. In the short run, the NFL must convert this curiosity to genuine interest, even if cultivating this interest is measured in seasons rather than months. Properly implemented, the NFL's international strategy will extend its online presence, increase merchandise sales and, over time, manifest itself in revenue generation associated with greater international broadcast rights fees and foreign sponsors.

By David Carter  |  October 23, 2009; 10:41 AM ET  | Category:  New England Patriots , Tampa Bay Buccaneers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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