NFL COO: Needs to Be 'Ordinary' to See Women in Sports Leadership Roles

August 31, 2018

By Conor White

Though last season's 10 percent drop in ratings has stirred questions about the appeal of football broadcasts in the streaming age, the NFL's COO thinks the internet is a useful learning tool for marketing her league.

"What Netflix and Google taught us is that ubiquity and ease are key," the league's chief operating officer Maryann Turcke said in an interview on Cheddar.

"When I think about my own kids, I have a 23-year-old and an 18-year-old; if they can't find something [quickly], they're going to stop looking."

Some leagues might be fazed by the rapid rise of eSports, but in certain ways the NFL, which kicks off its season on September 6, has been part of the movement from the beginning ー largely thanks to the success of the Madden franchise of games.

While last weekend's deadly attack at a qualifying event for the Madden 19 Championship raised concerns over safety at these tournaments, Turcke said the league is poised to take the next step and embrace the eSports craze.

"What Madden did is they brought football into gaming," Turcke said. "I think we need to bring gaming to the broadcast."

"There's a secret sauce out there somewhere, that someone's going to figure out, around how to gamify what we do." she added.

As for the concern about ratings, the NFL's chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp thinks the issue is being exaggerated.

"I think a lot of other people are more worried than we are," he told Cheddar.

While ratings for NFL games are down, they're also down for everyone else ー and not just in sports. NBC and CBS both saw viewership fall by 19 percent in 2017, and broadcast networks overall lost 16 percent of their viewers.

"The television industry and media industry is going through some huge changes," Rolapp said. "No one's immune to that."

And live sports ー the NFL, in particular ー are in a better position than most to attract viewers and actually may become more valuable to advertisers in the long run, Rolapp said.

"There is a premium in this marketplace that will continue for any content that can aggregate large number of audiences at one time," Rolapp said. "They are very few, and they are becoming fewer. Live events works, sports works, and the NFL specifically works."

"Whenever you have a product that aggregates audiences, people will find that valuable."

The 2018-19 NFL season officially starts Thursday, when the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles take on the Atlanta Falcons.

For full interview click here.

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