SBJ/September 5-11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

League boosts in-venue stats for fantasy fans

The NFL, working to keep its stadiums filled this season, is upgrading its official game statistics platform to satisfy fantasy league players attending the games.

Graphics will show real-time statistics.
The NFL is developing an enhanced video graphics package within its official Game Statistics Information System, containing more complete images for teams to display on their stadiums’ video boards. The improvements were in development as of last week, and league officials provided scant details on the program.

The upgrades are available for all 32 teams to use at their facilities. The league said all teams would use the upgrades, but at least one club, the Carolina Panthers, said it is not looking at the technology at this time.

Officials for the St. Louis Rams, one of the teams that will use the upgrades, said they plan to test the system at their first home game Sunday against the Eagles before rolling out the full package Sept. 25 against the Ravens. The NFL is paying for the equipment costs, said Scott Brooks, the Rams’ director of game entertainment.

Last year, the league made the NFL Network’s RedZone channel available to all clubs for use on their facilities’ video boards for games.

“It’s part of our fan engagement program in which we are moving toward further replicating the at-home experience at the stadium,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “We have to do more to keep fans coming to our games.”

Brooks said the new graphics package shows a player’s headshot, name and uniform number with real-time statistics from the action on the field, with a list of up-to-the-minute comparisons with performers in other NFL games.

Teams can also generate more revenue by selling advertising within those statistical boxes. The Rams have a current deal with regional restaurant chain Bandana’s Bar-B-Q to sponsor halftime statistics on the stadium’s video screens and LED ribbon boards.

The deal now expands to the “stats in a box” inventory, said Bob Reif, the Rams’ executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer.

Bandana’s will pay more money as part of renewing its deal, although the Rams would not say how much. All told, the statistical enhancements and other new game-day content adds more than $1 million in new sponsorship dollars for the Rams this year, Reif said.

Some NFL teams have been more aggressive than others in consistently displaying fantasy stats at their facilities. The Rams have been at the forefront of that effort after the results of a survey three years ago showed that fans preferred a steady diet of statistical information on display at the Edward Jones Dome.

“Each team can determine how much and how often they want to provide more information,” Brooks said. “For us, it’s not as much a new toy, but the league is pushing teams that this is something they need to do at the stadium.”

MetLife Stadium will also use the new graphics package this season for Jets and Giants games, said Peter Brickman, the facility’s chief technology officer.
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