NFL's Grubman Discusses Live Game Experience, League's Future In Europe
If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is “the quarterback at NFL headquarters,” Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman is “more like the running back, negotiating around, over and through obstacles while always trying to advance the ball,” according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. Grubman sat for a Q&A and discussed a “variety of topics, among them the challenge of attracting fans to live events (as opposed to watching on TV), the NFL-in-Los Angeles soap opera, and the prospects of continuing to build a fan base overseas.” Below are excerpts from the conversation:
Q: It's more comfortable to watch games at home than in an NFL stadium. What's the pitch for paying all that money to watch the game live?
Grubman: You can't influence the game from your couch. But if you've never experienced that, you don't know what you're missing. This is the first generation really that I would argue has a lot of opportunities to see it in such a way that they don't know what they're missing. ... If what you want to see is the 15th angle on the replay, if that's what you want, it's better at home.
Q: The NFL seems to be investigating the possibility of putting a team overseas. But NFL Europe ultimately failed. Isn't that a red flag?
Grubman: NFL Europe demonstrated the people love American-style football, and that they love the experience. … What they didn't like was something other than the ultimate game.
Q: What about the NFL in Los Angeles? Has that returned to the back burner?
Grubman: We're still of a mindset to return to Los Angeles, if we can do it in a way that makes us sure that we're going to have great success.
Q: Where do you project the growth of the league to be in five years? Is it still on an upward trajectory?
Grubman: Everybody keeps saying that we're a mature business because we have a number of franchises, we're fully distributed and we're on network television, our ratings are as high as they can be, etc. But if you go back the past 10 or 15 years, we've been able to say that for 15 years.
Q: What new ideas are in the pipeline for the NFL?
Grubman: NFL Everywhere is beginning to become a reality. If you subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV and authenticate, you can take that with you, so to speak. Well, start thinking about that with other pieces of our content and more methods of authentication, and it's going to expand.
Q: NFL fans in Europe can watch streaming online video of live games and NFL Network by subscribing to Game Pass. What's the future of that?
Grubman: We've just been using that to satisfy the rabid fan internationally. ... Instead of saying, 'What's the price at which people turn away?' What if we said, 'Why don't we get to a million fans? Why not 10 million fans?' That's a big opportunity. I don't have any idea what it's worth. What does it mean to have 1 million, 5 million, 10 million more fans overseas? Then you start to overlay whether you have a franchise overseas, or two franchises overseas, or do you play multiple games in multiple cities overseas? (L.A. TIMES, 1/29).