What the Austrian Bundesliga can learn from the NFL

The National Football League (NFL) is breaking new records year after year, especially with the Super Bowl. In 2022, the NFL recorded sales of $ 12.2 billion. By comparison, the German football league with the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga recently posted “only” 4.5 billion in sales.

Not only financially, but also in terms of excitement, almost no league can hold a light for the NFL. In the last ten years, the sports league with the highest turnover in the world has produced eight different champions. With Red Bull Salzburg and Austria Wien, there were only two title holders in the top division of Austrian football in the same period. So the question is: What can we learn from American e-sports?

Ins and outs in the NFL

A special point of the NFL is the relevance of the product itself and the feedback from the fans. While every competition is inflated, especially in European club football, to generate more revenue, the NFL’s motto is more: “Less is more”. In total, each team has only 17 matches to qualify for the playoffs, making each match even more important. In addition, the set of rules also ensures excitement in every game.

The Super Bowl finally takes the excitement to a whole new level, with just a single game to decide the season champion. Due to this explosiveness and the high interest, the advertising money is also at an unusually high level. A 30-second commercial alone costs about $ 5.6 million there, and the Super Bowl halftime show is a highlight in itself every year.

A special feature of the NFL is the salary cap, which has always been discussed in Europe in recent years, but whose implementation in the EU has proved difficult, if not nearly impossible. However, it is precisely this salary cap that prevents wealthy franchises or owners in the NFL from wanting to buy the title with the most expensive players.

Free TV and simple subscription models

But those are not the only factors that have ensured such a balanced title race in recent years. Unlike in this country, the TV money is distributed equally on teams, regardless of sporting success.

Nor does the NFL go the European way when it comes to marketing, especially television rights. The National Football League has defined 14- to 34-year-olds as the target group. American football was precisely tailored to this target group’s media use behavior because the games allow parallel media use without missing anything.

Unlike the national Bundesliga, NFL matches are mostly available on free television and there is hardly any competition at the time of broadcast. In addition, the NFL also excels with different and more individual variants of pay-TV offerings to its customers. With the “Game Season Pro Pass” for 163.99 euros a year, you can already see all the live games, the NFL draft, the NFL Redzone – similar to the conference on Sky – and other in-house productions. In addition, there is also the “Season Essential Pass” for 49.99 euros per year, which allows you to stream one live match per game day and the NFL Redzone. An extra pass will then be available exclusively for these games in time for the playoffs.

Where is the fans-first mentality?

Of course, the rules for individual sports can not be turned upside down, but there are certainly a few points that could also be implemented in European football. Above all, focusing on the needs of the fans is an important point in the marketing of the NFL. On the other hand, in European club football one can usually observe an alienation from the fans. Believe the motto: “The main thing is that the money is right”.

So you can learn a lot from the fans-first mentality in this country. In the confusion of TV rights, it has become difficult for fans to keep track of who is broadcasting what. Many people can and will not afford the expensive numerous subscriptions to the streaming services.

A first attempt at a more exciting league was made in Austria with championship and qualifying rounds, but this model does not seem to be the optimal solution either. Series champions Red Bull Salzburg proved it again in the 2021/22 season.

Not everything that glitters is gold

But here we come to the back of the NFL coin. Unlike in Europe, the NFL is a closed system with no promotions or relegations. So it’s primarily about the championship title, and a relegation battle is out of the question. Additionally, everything in the NFL is (almost) subject to financial success. Teams are sometimes simply moved to other cities or sold altogether if the turnover is not right.

That said, it would definitely not make sense to blindly copy everything from the NFL. But sport, especially in Austria and Germany, should at least assess how its own competitions can be optimized for that effect.


Text source: © LAOLA1.at


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