SBD/April 15, 2014/Media

NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp Sits For Q&A, Discusses NFL Network, "TNF" and NFL Now

Rolapp says the new Thursday night package sits atop his priority list
NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp recently was profiled by THE MMQB's Peter King, who wrote Rolapp will be "among the handful of most important people charting the course of all things NFL" in the coming years. His importance "will be not only determining the course of NFL Network as the successor to retiring president/CEO Steve Bornstein, but also in innovative new media ventures." Rolapp is "behind the invention of a new media tool the NFL will launch in August called NFL Now, which will customize your NFL consumption to your favorite team, your fantasy team, your favorite NFL Films stuff." He is "a guy who respects tradition but isn’t married to it, a lover of new ideas and seeks new ways of trying to keep the NFL on the cutting edge of how fans consume media." Rolapp sat down with King for a Q&A, and the following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why NFL Now?
Rolapp: NFL Now is a personalized video network that exists on any device you have. ... It’s essentially embracing video and mobile, which is where the world is going. So we think that initiative is a really important one that we’ll continue to build and spend a lot of time on. The goal was to give fans access, wherever they are, to the NFL video -- whether new or historic -- personalized to them. That was the goal. It didn’t matter what device they used, a smart phone or iPad or smart TV, on a desktop computer.

Q: What's highest on your radar right now?
Rolapp: I think this new Thursday night package and making that work. This partnership with CBS is important. Thursday night football started as eight games on NFL Network, then it went to 13, and we really wanted to make sure that we thought this extra prime-time night of games could work competitively, could work from a schedule standpoint, could work from a fan’s standpoint, and we’re convinced it does.

Q: Who will watch the game on NFL Network if they're already on the bigger CBS station?
Rolapp: I don’t know. If it’s one person, I don’t want them to get lost because they can’t find it. If he’s conditioned to go to NFL Network, that’s fine. It might be one. It might be a million. You have two voices. Like with the draft: Some like Mike Mayock. Some like Mel Kiper. Well, don’t just give them one, give them both.

Q: What about the Network itself? What do you want to see improve?
Rolapp: I think we’re happy with what’s working, but we can improve. There are so many alternatives now to get football and NFL information. We as a network need to find how we’re different. In my mind, it comes down to a few things. It starts with we’ve got the greatest brand in sports, and that needs to be embraced in everything we do. Second: We really need to become the players’ and the coaches’ network. If that’s a place that they want to watch, if that’s a place that they want to be, if that’s a place they show up, the fan will know that. Third is providing inside access that no one else can provide. If we can do that then we can deliver on not only what fans want, but it differentiates us from everyone else, and that’s who we should be. So that means that we’re re-looking at all of the programming (MMQB.SI.com, 4/14).
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