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Study: NFL Provides Worst In-Stadium Experience Across Pro Sports

While still the most popular league on TV, the NFL falls below the marks when it comes to fan experience.

Adam White

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The NFL gets a thumbs down from fans in eight of the nine categories examined. (Photo via popdose.com)

Based on a study from the Temkin Group, the NFL remained the most popular sport to watch on TV, but the league’s game day experience earned the lowest satisfaction scores for eight of the nine live event experiences that Temkin tracks.

The report, Fan Experience Benchmark: U.S. Professional Sports, is based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers that examines their TV viewing preferences and experiences at live sporting events.

For the past seven years, the Temkin Group has been tracking these TV preferences and over the course of that time, only Major League Baseball and the NHL have experienced an increase in popularity.

As leagues fight other forms of entertainment, the study found that the decline in TV interest was most dramatic for males between the ages of 18- and 24-years-old, which is not a good sign for leagues looking for ways to capture the coveted millennial audience.

Although only 2.2% of the consumers surveyed had attended a WNBA game, the league scored highest in five of the categories examined including parking, using the bathroom, purchasing food, purchasing a souvenir, and leaving the stadium.

When it comes to watching the game, the NHL and MLB shared the honor of being the favorite of those surveyed, which isn’t really surprising given that baseball games allow for more social interaction and are easier to watch casually, while NHL games are non-stop and provide fans with energy and excitement not seen anywhere else outside of the NBA and MLS.

Not surprisingly, consistently across the sports measured, consumers were least satisfied with the parking experience and most satisfied with their experience of watching the game/match.

Given what we know about parking costs and the hassle they present, teams who can streamline this process and provide a better experience for fans start winning before those attending the game even make it into the stadium.

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An example of this can be what the Red Sox and other teams have done with parking startup ParkWhiz. By partnering with the company, the Red Sox give their fans the chance to reserve parking spaces in advance, saving fans the time and hassle it may take to find one before the game.

As for the NFL, the only category it didn’t find itself last in was that of watching the game, which the WNBA found itself holding the title of.

The three least satisfactory experiences for consumers across the study include parking, going to the bathroom, and purchasing food, all experiences that can be negated by staying home and watching the game on TV.

With entertainment options abound and millennials opting for experiences that provide them with the best of everything, for sports teams to drive fans back to the stadium and into seats is going to take looking at the core complaints of consumers and doubling down on efforts to provide tangible solutions (i.e. the Falcons Fan First Pricing).

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

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Uninterrupted Sees Opportunity in Acquisition of ‘More Than An Athlete’

Uninterrupted acquired “More Than An Athlete,” as the two brands’ visions and missions were aligned in helping empower athletes off the field.

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Uninterrupted is furthering its athlete empowerment platform with the acquisition of “More Than An Athlete.”

With this acquisition, the “More Than An Athlete” platform and activewear line will be integrated into the Uninterrupted brand, Uninterrupted President Devin Johnson said. “More Than An Athlete” founder DeAndra Alex will also join the Uninterrupted team as a marketing and brand strategist.

“When we learned about DeAndra and the grassroots platform they had built, we recognized an immediate alignment from a mission perspective,” Johnson said. “We reached out to learn more about the company, and as the conversations evolved, we both decided that our impact would be greater by joining forces.”

Alex started the company in 2012 and has since built a platform of marketing initiatives, community-action programs and an apparel line to help athletes change the perception of what it means to be an athlete. The community Alex built is made up of professional and student-athletes.

READ MORE: How Uninterrupted Brand Partnerships Help Showcase Athlete Stories

“Uninterrupted has defined and embodied what it means to be ‘More Than An Athlete’ and through their content, have empowered athletes to start important conversations on a host of issues,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier to be joining the team and look forward to continuing this important work.”

The joint passion of elevating athlete voices was the major draw, but Johnson said he is especially excited about the student-athlete contributions to the Uninterrupted brand the acquisition can provide.

“We were really interested in the ways in which they were working with and reaching student-athletes, especially younger student-athletes who don’t always get the media attention they deserve, but have equally important stories to tell,” he said. “At every level of sport, there is more to the athlete than the game.”

Johnson expects the two brands to be joined seamlessly as it grows beyond a media and content company. The addition will help extend Uninterrupted into areas beyond the digital content the company has founded itself on, into areas like merchandise and events. The “More Than An Athlete” portfolio includes a range of shirts and negative ion energy bracelets.

While the acquisition will help Uninterrupted expand its offerings, the “More Than An Athlete” platform will be introduced into a massive athlete network and a large media distribution.

“We are also looking forward to working with DeAndra to give an even bigger platform to the work she started in 2012,” Johnson said. “DeAndra will be a great asset to our team, especially from a marketing and branding perspective. She understands and is wholly committed to the mission, and as a savvy entrepreneur, her perspective and experiences will be invaluable to our team, network and audience.”

READ MORE: Former NFL Player Andrew Hawkins Is Building a New Career Playbook

Johnson said the deal should only make both brands stronger, but more importantly, have a greater impact in the company’s mission to empower athletes beyond the field.

“We’re excited about the future of Uninterrupted as an athlete empowerment brand that goes beyond media and content,” Johnson said. “We look forward to developing the limitless potential of ‘More Than An Athlete’ brand, exploring new content and new products, pulling from what we have both done as individual companies and also creating new content, franchises and products together.”

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Premier Lacrosse League’s Newest Investment Opens Up Exciting Possibilities

Alibaba co-founder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai leads the latest lacrosse league investment as the PLL prepares for its inaugural season.

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Photo credit: PLL

The Premier Lacrosse League is preparing to launch in June, riding on a recent round of investments. 

The PLL’s Series A round of investment includes Alibaba Group co-founder and Brooklyn Nets investor Joe Tsai. The league was founded by brothers Paul and Michael Rabil, who are betting their experience in sports and business — and a demand for sports content — will help the league succeed.

Still, launching a new sports league isn’t easy, said Michael Rabil, the acting CEO of the PLL.

“This is the first time I’ve done it, but any new business isn’t easy to launch,” Rabil said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a gym in Franklin, New Hampshire or a nationwide lacrosse league. There’s so many small nuances and details. A sports league is the heaviest lift I’ve ever done, but we’re pleased how we’ve been received.”

READ MORE: Why the PLL and Women’s Professional Lacrosse League Joined Forces

Ahead of its launch slated for June 1, the PLL is seeing the details coming together quickly. The six-team league will be a traveling league, touring through 12 major markets. The cities and teams are to be announced in the coming weeks, Rabil said. The league has announced its inaugural weekend site in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. New York’s Red Bull Arena was announced as the second weekend’s tour stop and as a playoff site in September.  

“The announcement calendars are chock full,” he said. In addition, the league will reveal team logos on Tuesday.

The initial round of investors was led by the Raine Group and included the Chernin Group, Blum Capital and CAA. Amount raised was not disclosed by the league. The first round allowed the Rabils to set up a three-point plan to reach the second round of funding.

The first objective was hiring a great executive team, while the second goal was to attract the best players in the world — the league announced 140 players signed in October. The last piece was a major media deal.

“If we could do those three things, we had a compelling business plan,” Rabil said. “It was important to implement a certain set of milestones to warrant a large capital raise and it’s important to hit those to justify the capital raised.”

The PLL signed a multi-year deal with NBC Sports Group, with three games broadcast on NBC and 19 games set to air on NBCSN and full-season package available on the subscription streaming service NBC Sports Gold. Several dry runs of broadcasts will be held before the launch. 

“You only have one chance,” Rabil said.

The league will act as a competitor to a current professional lacrosse league, Major League Lacrosse. The Rabils hope the league’s media deals can help make the sport continue a trend toward the mainstream.

Content is at the heart of the PLL’s strategy to win fans, and Rabil said there’s been continuous planning for high-quality content creation, including original programming, to tell the sport’s stories. Rabil said he and his brother hope to showcase a lower barrier of entry for the sport, which is often painted as an elite East Coast hobby.

“At the end of the day, we’re entertaining people,” he said. “We want to entertain with a high level of competition, but also with the stories behind the players and how unique they are.”

READ MORE: How the PGA Tour Helped Pro Golfers Improve Their Social Presence

The new influx of capital also will help the PLL leadership to make a few more key executive hires and continue to build and execute the game day experience, which will be key to the league’s success, Rabil said.

“Not only do fans expect a highly competitive game, but an atmosphere that is interactive with national sponsors,” he said.

Rabil said he’s enjoyed watching the first few weeks of the Alliance of American Football, which launched its inaugural season earlier this month. He’s impressed in the distribution and the diverse audience reach the league has achieved early in its existence.

“The AAF has done a great job of telling their story around football,” Rabil said. “It’s been great; I’ve learned a lot about a new industry. I don’t consider myself an expert in this space — just in building a business.

“I’ve applied a lot of what I’ve learned and hopefully it pays off.”

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3 Key Startup Lessons From Up-and-Coming Sports Entrepreneurs

Let’s take a look at some advice from three up-and-coming sports startup founders on their journeys to create opportunity.

Jarrod Barnes

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Photo credit: Pixabay

With the sports industry’s market size growing to just over $73 billion in 2019, there is no lack of opportunity to create and innovate within the business of sports.

The question is, where does one start?

A quick Google search of “how to start a business” will yield approximately 11.6 million results. The traditional path of attending a top business school seems to be the road less traveled for many entrepreneurs today. Current and former professional athletes like Kobe Bryant and Alex Morgan have continued to turn heads by launching businesses and building venture capital portfolios, almost making the process look easy.

Let’s take a look at some advice from three up-and-coming sports startup founders on creating opportunity and reaching success as a business owner.

Embrace Failure

“Entrepreneurship is dealing with failure; it’s one thing for you to create an idea that you like, but it doesn’t always stick with people,” states Chad Kayner, co-founder of 4est Ventures, an organization that transforms athletes into entrepreneurs and connects startups to potential investors. “It’s important to check your ego at the door — and understand that the stakes are much higher with your failures. You don’t truly learn until you go through it.”

Failure is, in fact, a harsh reality when it comes to launching a business, with the Small Business Association stating that 50 percent of businesses fail during the first five years.

READ MORE: Informational Interviews Can Be Crucial to Your Career Development

“Creating and selling things are fantastic, but you have to have the business model figured out in order to become sustainable,” said Kayner.

One of the top reasons small businesses fail is due to cash-flow problems.

“It’s survival; you have to use everything in your toolkit. If you haven’t been placed in that place before, entrepreneurship will bring it out.”

As Blake Masters and Peter Thiel say in the book “Zero To One”: “All failed companies are the same; they failed to escape competition.”

Starting from ground zero can be a huge challenge. Yet, it was failure that has helped Kayner build a community of mentors and a high-functioning organization. While it may seem like the odds are against entrepreneurs, it’s the ability to adapt, both yourself and the business, that can open the additional opportunity.

Be Prepared To Adapt

When launching a business, there isn’t always a direct next step or path to take. Rae Emard, founder of Athent, a mobile app that helps athletes and creatives easily understand and manage their finances, investments, and personal brands, shared how, “we grow up and go through our education system and come find out in business there are a million different ways to find what you’re looking for and get to where you want to be.”

Dominique Easley, a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, is also an investor in Athent and claims that he’s fallen in love with the process of entrepreneurship. Providing a solution to the needs of financial literacy and brand development that professional athletes face has given these entrepreneurs purpose.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“For me to enter that realm was difficult. It was too awkward for me, but then I started seeing how the app was evolving and started to understand the details and gain confidence,” stated Easley.

Emard and Easley both had to adapt, even if that meant moving across the country to find greater opportunity and be surrounded by the right people. “I came to Los Angeles and literally went from crowdfunding to a functional app,” stated Emard.

In the process of adaptation also comes growth. Both Emard and Easley have helped position Athent to receive the endorsement of prominent current and former NFL players.

Embracing failure while learning to adapt is one thing, but lasting success is built through remaining patient.

Remain Patient

The late William Feather, author of “The Business of Life” stated that “unnecessary hustle is one of the American follies. We hustle at both work and play, and consequently enjoy neither.”

Hard work is not to be overlooked or ignored, but it is focused energy over time that has the power to produce lasting results.

READ MORE: How to Master the First Month of a New Job in Sports Business

“It’s patience, and understanding the balance between executing and always knocking on doors. We need time to make really good decisions, and trusting your gut feelings comes from experience and patience,” shared Kayner.

Jumping to a quick conclusion may feel like it can give you an edge, but it can cause you to create an artificial timeline. When an idea fails to align with that timeline, the mind can run wild.

“Control what you can control; solve what you see is the problem,” stated Easley.

Ideas are powerful, and the sports-business landscape is wide open for those willing to bring an idea to life. Enthusiasm, passion, and grit are all key characteristics of startup founders, but in order to sustain a business, be prepared to embrace failure, adapt, and remain patient in your pursuit.

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