SBD/September 9, 2011/NFL Season Preview

JetBlue To Title Sponsor Patriots' Pregame Show On Facebook

The Patriots and JetBlue are finalizing an agreement that will make the airline the title sponsor of the team’s new pregame show that airs on Facebook. The deal will mark JetBlue's first association with the Patriots, and the two sides are in the process of finalizing creatives in time for Monday's season opener against the Dolphins. The show, which debuted as “Patriots Pre-Game Social” during the preseason, is also available on the team’s official app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones, and via the club's mobile website. It is hosted by “Patriots Football Weekly” editors Paul Perillo and Andy Hart and airs two hours prior to each week's kickoff. The concept of an online program is not new for the Patriots. The team has been broadcasting a show on the Web for well over a decade, according to Patriots Dir of Interactive Media Fred Kirsch. What makes this new initiative unique is the incorporation of social media. Fans can listen to the show while posting comments, voting on a poll or flipping through a fan photo gallery. The Facebook page already has almost 2.5 million “likes,” and fans have tuned in during the preseason. The team averaged 3,000-4,000 live listeners and 50,000 on-demand listeners for the first four broadcasts. Kirsch said that while he is pleased with those numbers, he expects them to triple during the regular season. He also expects the broadcasts to continue to run smoothly after experiencing a few kinks during the first show. Facebook posts during that initial broadcast did not automatically refresh, and when users reloaded the page, they lost the audio stream. The Patriots worked with N.Y.-based social media company Buddy Media to fix the issues and implement a free-flowing chat system that doesn’t require users to refresh. Kirsch said feedback has been positive. “The fans are loving it,” he said.

LAUNCHING PAD: The team will soon launch a “Patriots Football Daily” premium app for the iPad and Android’s Honeycomb tablet that will cost $19.99. The app will be included in the cost of a "Patriots Football Weekly" subscription and will feature the entire magazine. Content will also include news, video and audio from “I think that is going to be a trendsetter,” said Kirsch. “I think a lot of teams are going to look at that and say, ‘We want that, too.’”
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