Despite widespread reports that NFL television ratings were down this past season, the chief operating officer of the league insists that audience has never been stronger.
Speaking at the 2017 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit, NFL COO and former Seattle Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said with all the new ways people are using technology to watch games and follow the league, traditional TV ratings don’t fully measure the audience.
“We believe that there are more people watching and following us than ever before, and we know that intuitively, and then the information’s going out, and you are seeing it in all these other technologies supporting broadcasts” Leiweke said.
That said, Leiweke claims the tried-and-true means for watching games — in the stadium or on a big screen TV at home — aren’t going away any time soon. Mobile technology and social media are augmenting that experience, giving people more ways to watch and relate to the players and the game itself.
Even as technology proliferates and offers more in-depth ways to interact with players and games, Leiweke thinks the in-stadium experience remains king and is still a big focus for the NFL.
“Still being at the game and turning to a stranger and giving him a high five is going to be hard to replicate by any form of technology,” Leiweke said.
Leiweke also went over ways the league is working to improve the viewer experience, whether it is in stadium, watching on TV or online through Amazon under a new deal with the league. The NFL is cutting some of its commercial breaks in order to speed up the pace of games. It is also looking to streamline official reviews, relying more on Microsoft Surface tablets and announcing replay decisions during commercial breaks, to get back to the action quicker.
Whether it is speeding up the game, measuring player performance or interacting during a game, it’s undeniable the influence technology is having on football. And while the NFL is still focused on getting people into its stadiums, Leiweke said it recognizes the need to wire up their buildings so that people can Tweet about big plays and check their fantasy scores.
“Not too long ago, these buildings were bottlenecked from the ability for people to use technology at the stadium. That’s been fixed,” Leiweke said at today’s event at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. “This building is as well wired as any building in the world.