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Case 3: NFL Mobile Debuts

April 15, 2010
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April 22nd. A date unrecognized by many, but widely regarded as a holiday in the NFL Community. Yes. I am talking about the NFL Draft. A day of fiestas and cheer, of suspense and regret.

This is not just another NFL draft, but the 75th NFL Draft ever. And we all know how we like to quantify importance by 25s. And with the premier of this event, Verizon has teamed up with the NFL to create the NFL Mobile App. This app will contain free news and information and will be optimized for select smartphones and multimedia devices including the Motorola Droid, BlackBerry Storm and Storm2, HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Rogue (notice the lack of iPhone, as iPhone is carried exclusively by AT&T). This mobile app will feature in-depth profiles of current NFL players and draft prospects, team updates, mock drafts, expert analysis and related content. The NFL Mobile app also includes NFL Network content, highlighted by live coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft. Once the regular season begins the app will also feature live simulcast of Thursday Night and Monday Night games.

This is going to be the official NFL app for those who have Verizon smart phones. NFL Mobile, which will remain free for download through the end of 2010, represents the first major NFL mobile app from Verizon since the carrier agreed to a four-year sponsorship with the NFL to be the league’s one and only mobile media partner. They are taking over for sprint as the mobile partner of the NFL. It is of course aimed at football fans everywhere, as it does not cater to other sports.

Currently on the iPhone I have the ESPN Gamecenter app, which is a great mobile app that lets me see scores and stats for any game in any sport, and it is free because it runs on an advertising model. However, the app is also very limited. What the NFL Mobile app does that ESPN cannot is not only give in-depth news, but also stream live games. I would be willing to pay for a premium app if it would let me watch games live via wi-fi. There are so many hotspots in cities that that becomes a great commodity. So with NFL Mobile taking advantage of that, it is a great platform for the NFL to push its brand. This deal is estimated at $720m.

I will be paying particular focus on how this app can enhance the NFL draft for the remainder of this blog entry. As I said before, the NFL Draft is a quasi-holiday for all football fans out there. Especially with the class that will be entering the NFL this year, NFL fans like to pay close attention. And it is no accident that this app was released around a week before the draft will happen. That is the NFL equivalent of releasing the romantic comedy “Valentines Day” on Valentines Day. You will generate far more buzz and downloads then you would if released at any other time. A Verizon executive had this to say.

Among the programming that will be available for the first time during the regular season will be the wildly popular NFL RedZone channel from the NFL Network, which airs live look-ins of every key play and touchdown from Sunday afternoon games.  Fans also will be able to watch live streaming of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.  In addition, fans will receive the NFL Network channel, which airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis, and is the only network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football.

“This is an agreement that has, at its core a mutual desire by both the NFL and Verizon Wireless to provide consumers with what they want on and off the field,” said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless.  “For Verizon Wireless, it is NFL content delivered over our 3G network so football fans can extend the excitement of the sport long after the last touchdown of a season.  And the NFL content is customizable in that consumers have options from video to ringtones to alerts; the choice is theirs.”

This app makes the NFL experience far more customizable and programmable into each NFL fans lives. You can believe me when I say that I am very upset this is not being offered to the iPhone, as football is my favorite sport and I am a diehard Patriots fan. Not owning cable, I have to scramble every week to find different ways to watch my football games. But with the entrance of this device, it gives football fans options to watch their games, as well as an advanced mobile system to find scores, stats and highlights.

The next step to improving the NFLs standing with tech and mobile users is to utilize the iPad to create an NFL application where you can view all NFL games on the device. I don’t know what people would be willing to pay, but I would easily willing to pay decent money to be able to view all NFL games on a rich media device such as the iPad. For complete viewing, the options for smartphones are a little limited, as you only have a 2″-3″ screen. But with the 9,7″ screen of the iPad, the NFL could have a lot of fun in creating a beautiful looking and great producing app.

What the NFL does have with the iPad as far as branded apps go is the NFL 2010 game. Here is an instructional video.

With the NFL looking to expand into the mobile market, NFL Mobile for Verizon is a great start. It has stats, live games and highlights. This should strike well with the NFLs core demographic, 18-34 year old men. I can just hope that NFL gives Apple users something to look forward to, whether a free app or a paid service. I look forward to the day when me and my fictional iPad can comfortably sit back in a chair and watch some football…Those will be the days.


It’s a Green Day on Broadway

February 15, 2010
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Premiering at the St. James theatre on Broadway next month is the new musical collaboration between Green Day and director Michael Mayer, American Idiot. Described as “Working-class characters — from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East — seek redemption in a world filled with frustration.“, American Idiot will most certainly sell a few tickets.

From a marketing standpoint, American Idiot is a dream show to promote. Michael Mayer will be directing, who directly the critically acclaimed production of Spring Awakening last year. Mayer will reunited with the star of Spring Awakening, Tony-winning actor John Gallagher Jr, who took the lead role when American Idiot premiered at Berkley Rep Theatre.

The marketing team behind this show has an easier job ahead of them then if they were to promote the new Martin McDonagh play, A Behanding in Spokane. All Green Day fans will want to see this show, as well as any fans of Spring Awakening, which won eight Tony Awards.

There has been a recent trend of casting film stars in Broadway shows, with the likes of Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schriber, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, Anne Hathaway, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Lucy Liu and David Alan Grier. This is just with shows that have been produced since this past summer.

And some productions may not rely on big name stars, but big budgeted productions, as is the new musical Spider-Man: Beyond the Dark. While most plays have a production budget of a few million dollars, Spider-Man has a budget of approximately $37m, which will make it the most expensive Broadway production, by about $15m.

Here are some photos of the Berkley Rep production of American Idiot.

To buy tickets like I fully plan on doing, go to Playbill’s website and or just click this.

39 Tkts to the 39 Steps

February 14, 2010
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This past summer I interned at HHC Marketing, a company that specializes in marketing for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. One of our biggest clients was the Broadway production of The 39 Steps. While on Broadway for several years and spanning several Broadway houses, a productions attendance falls.

In  August of 2009 we started promoting our “Case of the Missing 39 tkts to The 39 Steps”, which was to be a month long promotion for followers of our Twitter account to find sets of tickets in Midtown, Manhattan. We left several clues everyday via tweets as to the location of the tickets and all of the locations had some relative connection to Hitchcock and one of his films. All very mystery themed. You can check out the 39 Steps Twitter account here.

Just by following official Twitters for other Broadway shows and people who expressed an interest in Hitchcock, we amassed almost 1000 followers for our promotion. While we were relatively happy with this turnout, it was meager compared with the amount of followers some other Broadway shows have. The Broadway production of Next to Normal currently has over 1m followers, and the way they do this is two fold. They are an extremely successful Broadway show, selling more than 80% of its tickets every week. And they have the cast and staff use the Twitter account to directly talk with the fans of the show. At one point the creators of the show actually collaborated with fans to create a new song for the show.

The possibilities to market with Twitter, to talk and collaborate directly with your fans is amazing. And the opportunity for theatre productions is just as real as any other brand. If you are marketing a movie, have your stars post a few times a day and I believe you will have tens of thousands of people start to follow you. And if you are giving away free merchandise the possibilities are even more real. Think of your Twitter account as part of your brand, not a separate entity.

While Twitter has the opportunity to open up a brand to its consumers, it is by no means automatic. You need work at it and be smart. Give it a personality. My favorite twitter is the personal tweets of Neil Patrick Harris. I strongly suggest following him.

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