SBJ/Sept. 2-8, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL details perks package

New club for season-ticket holders offers RedZone, Madden bonuses

The NFL this week is unveiling its first package of benefits for the league’s roughly 1 million season-ticket holders, a program called The Membership Club.

The program provides for any NFL season-ticket holder to get RedZone for free on his or her cellphone. Additionally, season-ticket holders will be able to access RedZone whether in their team’s stadium or not, and they will have access even if they use a carrier other than league sponsor Verizon, said Brian Lafemina, the NFL’s vice president of club business development.

Verizon, through its sponsorship of the NFL, has exclusive rights to show RedZone via mobile, so the season-ticket holder plan is an exception.

Electronic Arts also is getting into the act. For those season-ticket holders who buy EA’s “Madden” game, they will receive access to a free download to supplement the purchase that could include additional players or teams, Lafemina said.

EA officials said details on the download were being finalized but that the idea is to “give fans exclusive downloadable content to enhance their Madden experience.”

Verizon officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Our partners Verizon and EA support this initiative,” Lafemina said when asked specifically about Verizon opening its access to RedZone.

The NFL also will make NFL Rewind, its digital subscription product that allows fans to watch every regular-season game on demand online or via tablet, available to season-ticket holders. Rewind costs $69.99 for subscribers. The NFL did not say whether Rewind would be free to season-ticket holders or discounted.

Lafemina described the first offerings of The Membership Club as only phase one, saying at the beginning of each league season that season-ticket holders will enjoy more perks.

The NFL has recently adopted a new internal term for season-ticket holders, calling them instead season-ticket “members” (thus the name The Membership Club). Several clubs have made the terminology switch, which is designed to convey a fuller array of benefits and inclusion that comes with buying season tickets.

Encouraging fans to come to NFL stadiums is a league priority as, like other sports, the NFL battles advanced in-home entertainment systems that make it less alluring to attend games.

The NFL is fighting this trend on two fronts. One is to offer entertainment available only in stadium, like locker room audio and camera feeds not seen on TV, and via apps that offer camera angles and other choices not possible at home. The second is The Membership Club, offering enticements that come with season-ticket ownership.

Individual clubs across the league already are acting in this regard (see Tampa Bay story). The league’s plan is to provide more umbrella coverage, offering season-ticket holders the same package of benefits no matter their team.

RedZone provides whip-around game coverage, taking fans to action across the league and with a focus on coverage when a team moves inside its opponent’s 20-yard line. RedZone airs between 1 p.m. ET on Sunday and the end of the day’s late-afternoon games. In-stadium, the coverage would give season-ticket holders a way to see action and highlights from other games while simultaneously attending a home team’s game.

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