The NFL is well marketed. It’s quite simple. The general sense of hype for games on a week-to-week basis is always high and it makes sense because, well, it doesn’t take much for an average fan to feel committed to their team when they only play once a week. This is one of the many draws that the National Football League possesses, but there’s more, and I’m going to tell you all about it.
A big reason why the league is a draw for the casual fan is because of the NFL’s yearly campaign to bring the sport overseas. For example, the London Games. This year both games involving the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars were played at the newly built Tottenham Hotspur soccer stadium, a team in the English Premier League. A lot of those fans attending probably didn’t know much about American football but they love it because of the fast physical pace of the game.
Another thing is that the season in the NFL is 17 spread out weeks, with each team getting 1 bye week while playing one game a week the rest of the time. This doesn’t require too much of a commitment and it allows the average Joe to get invested, even if they don’t have a particular team that they like most.
Couple this with the playoffs being layed out a similar way and you get a full season that’s not too hard to follow for the average casual fan.
Tailgating is also quite unique and great for the average fan. Who doesn’t want to hang out 4 or 5 hours before the game with buddies?! Everyone gathers around, has a beer, and relaxes until it’s time to get into the stadium and get loud.
Another reason it’s great for the average fan is the rivalries.
Every sport on the planet offers intense rivalries. Soccer has Liverpool FC and Manchester United. Baseball has the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Basketball has the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics. However, these rivalries cannot compare to the passion between fans of the Packers and Bears, Steelers and Raiders or Cowboys and Washington.
While other sporting rivalries are undoubtedly great to watch, the intensity cannot be matched to football, which depends on the other team hitting their competitors as hard as they possibly can. It can, therefore, lead to much tension and passion in the air between fans, which can transform a friendly game into a dramatic showdown.
A big part of bringing in casual fans is the end product of the season. The final. Where all the marbles are on the line. The NFL does it exceptionally well when it comes to the Super Bowl. The hype and build-up matched with all the ceremonies involved including the halftime show make the final more than just a game, and frankly, it’s a spectacle to behold.
The fact that teams earn equal revenue from the viewership and sponsorship deal also plays a big part in keeping casual fans on board. It makes the sport more popular and it pressures owners into doing what they can to field a quality team. The more quality teams there are, the more average fans get sucked in because of how much winning matters.
Television and the overall accessibility of games are also big factors.
No matter where you live in the world, as long as you have Internet access, you can spend every Sunday watching your favorite NFL team. That is something the League has worked on for decades. As far back as 1939, the first televised NFL broadcast featured the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. That was just the beginning of the NFL making its product super-accessible to fans. Over the years, the NFL has made the product even more accessible by putting players’ names on jerseys, playing games on Monday nights (when people are home), building larger stadiums to accommodate demand, launching its own network and giving fans additional content, like the legendary NFL Films series.
The NFL’s social media presence is easy for the average person to keep their eye on too.
The NFL is known for its strong social media presence. In fact, every team in the league has a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account to provide fans with up-to-date news and engage them by highlighting specific fans, giving them a chance to win prizes like team memorabilia. Teams like the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints have even used Snapchat to reveal their schedules and create stories for the upcoming season. The Eagles have used Snapchat to unveil new products and show locker footage.
Not only does the NFL embrace social media, but it’s also not afraid to experiment with the latest trends.
They’re also just so far ahead in terms of fan experience, which is a big deal because chances are if you are new to the NFL you’re going to be wowed even more by the gameday experience.
Whether you stay home or go to your local stadium, the NFL is always looking for ways to improve your fan experience. If you go to a game, giant screens give you a better glimpse of the on-field action. Apps tell you how long restroom lines are. Stadiums such as Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High, New England’s Gillette Stadium and San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium provide WiFi access so fans can update their social media accounts or check out their fantasy teams.