Is Mark Cuban Right About the NFL?

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| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Is Mark Cuban Right About the NFL?

The owner of an NBA team and start-up shark on Shark Tank, Mark Cuban is no stranger to controversy. This week he made a comment about the NFL's greed will lead to their implosion (in ten years).

One point he makes is safety and seeds. The NFL has noticed a decline in Pop Warner football players as well as high school football. The decline was largely due to mothers worrying about the health of their sons. (And maybe other sports pay better for longer periods of time, like golf or tennis or baseball).

As for saturating TV, I have to wonder how many households now watch the Thursday night games. I don't. I forget they are on (NFL network). Plus if I was married, could I get away with watching football on Sunday, Monday night and Thursday night? Um, I'm going to say Unlikely.

They only don't play on Friday and Saturday because of college and high school games. Otherwise they would (as an NFL front office guy named Peter said on ESPN Sportscenter today.) And The NFL front office mentioned that Wednesday night is too soon in the week for the for the athletes to recover enough to play.

Why do they need to grow? The NFL is on top of the mountain now - like AT&T and Verizon - it's very hard to keep growing. Why is it always about growth? Bigger is hardly ever better. For example, look at consolidation in banking and telecom and tell me we have a better sector filled with innovation and great customer experience.

NFL teams already have blackout problems. By that I mean that many teams - Tampa included - have attendance issues that cause TV blackouts. They should work on the fan experience. You want growth? Why look at more games or more locations (like International games in London and Mexico City)? Why not win your old fans back? It is easier than trying to win over new fans. As the NFL said, they are aiming to bring in more Latino and female viewers.

The NFL has a similar problem to what C-Link and the two RBOCs face - how to grow revenue in the face of a flat pie and poor customer service?

Do you have to keep growing? Can't you just improve the experience and enjoy greater fan support?

Get more fans is basically customer acquisition. It's about expansion - into new markets like the UK, into new demographics. Like I said when 8x8 expanded to the UK: why go overseas when you haven't taken your whole market over here?

How do you add revenue? Ticket sales, licensing deals and especially TV rights are ways that the NFL makes money. How do they grow that? Raise ticket prices when you are already seeing a dip in attendance in some markets? Bengals, Colts and Packers almost had to blackout playoffs!!! Blackouts have been noticed by the FCC and Congress.

How do you make money on licensing when fans aren't going to games? Some of this may be due to free agency where players are with a team for 1 year. Who's going to buy his jersey at $95 for a year? Thus, one more dipping revenue stream.

The NFL front office stated that they had grown their schedule out to 16 games (plus 2 meaningless pre-season games that have a full ticket price). They could add more games - if the players union would let them, but the players worry that 18 games would result in more injuries - something that the NFL tries to give lip service too. [The NFL only gives lip service to injuries - especially concussions - due to an almost billion dollar lawsuit and the worries of mothers of pop warner players.]

Let's get back to Fan Experience. Why doesn't the stadium have free wi-fi? The social media usage would certainly help the fan experience - and make people think they are missing out. (I have heard numerous times that RJ Stadium that the Bucs play in will have wi-fi - first by VZW then by BHN - but I can't find it when I am there. Makes no sense to me.

Mark Cuban says the NFL is greedy and will implode. Didn't this happen to Wall Street around September of 2008? Greed isn't good.

One ESPN analyst suggested that Cuban was just having sour grapes because the NBA doesn't have the draw of the NFL. That's true. Cuban wishes the NBA was as good as the NFL, but it isn't. The refs bet on the games. It's seems to be about business and the playoffs, not about the love of the game. I don't think Cuban was sour; I think the ecosystem of the NFL - ESPN, the analysts, etc. - are afraid he IS right.

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