Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL owners voted at their annual meeting this morning to require teams to charge season-ticket holders for playoff tickets only when the game is set, ending some franchises’ approach to sending out invoices as early as November. The Packers did that last year when the club was out of the playoff picture. The team went on a late run and made the playoffs on the final weekend, complicating the playoff ticket sale because so many fans had chosen not to buy in November. The game nearly did not sell out, causing a PR headache for the league. “Season-ticket members shall not be charged for the cost of postseason home game tickets until the club is certain to host the associated postseason game, unless the season ticket member elects to be charged sooner,” the resolution, which passed, said. Owners also agreed to extend for another five years the policy allowing clubs to lower the number of stadium seats that count toward the TV blackout policy. The seating capacity policy was in effect for '12 and '13, and now will run through '18. The seating count policy has allowed teams to more easily sell out games to avoid local TV blackouts. Only two games were blacked out last year. The drawback for teams is ticket revenue from seats that are not counted for capacity, but are then sold, is then shared at a higher rate with the league than for seats sold that are counted toward blackouts.

Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban last night said that he "believes the NFL is 10 years from imploding," according to Eddie Sefko of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Cuban said of the NFL's expanded TV package, "When pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I'm just telling you, when you got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns against you. ... They’re trying to take over every night of TV. And initially, it’ll be the biggest rating thing there is. Then, if they get Saturday, now they’re impacting college. And then if they go to Wednesday, at some point, people get sick of it." He added, "It was just so easy when I could plan on Sunday or maybe Monday. And if you get no days off in football and your team is playing one of those days, it’s just one of the rules I use: when pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered" (, 3/23). Cuban said that the NFL is "making a mistake by valuing television money over the convenience of fans who are used to planning for their NFL teams to play on Sundays with the occasional Monday night game." He compared it to the "decline in popularity of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' after the game show expanded to air five days a week" (, 3/23). But's Kevin Seifert wrote, "Ubiquitous football won't turn fans off on its own." There is an "undeniable weekly rhythm to a football season, but as long as most games are played on Sunday, it's difficult to see a widespread revolt." Seifert: "Here's what will send people looking elsewhere: Ubiquitous bad football" (, 3/23).

The NFL has launched a partnership with app developer Experience "that lets fans upgrade seats and obtain closer access to the team," according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Experience "sold the targeted service to three NFL teams last season and has a full client roster of roughly 90 pro and college teams." The NFL is "putting its stamp of approval on the technology, although the relationship brings no official designation." NFL Senior VP/Club Business Development Brian Lafemina said that Experience expects "a notable increase in its NFL team users next year based on the company’s discussions with clubs." He added, “They believe up to half the league will be deployed for the 2014 season." Kaplan notes teams "would pay a fee to use the technology, but the cost per club would decline as more franchises use it." Experience’s service "works as a link within a team app." Teams could "generate revenue with the product by charging for the upgrades and experiences purchased." The Falcons were "one of the clubs to use the technology last season, offering it to 3,000 of their season-ticket-holder accounts." The team "branded the experiences 'memories' and averaged about 800 sold per game." Falcons CMO Jim Smith said, "Anything from pregame on-field, to a birthday message, to cheerleader visits, to mascot visits, to the fly-by pass, which is a dedicated lane where you don’t wait to get into the stadium. All the experiential things sold out within the first four hours they were made available." The club plans to "expand the program to all 16,000 season-ticket-holder accounts." Extra seat inventory "is low in the NFL," which sold out 98% of its seats in '13, so seat upgrades "may not even be possible in certain venues" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/24 issue).

Rays P Alex Cobb on Friday said that it is "so close to the regular season, he can't envision himself, or most pitchers, experimenting with new equipment once the games matter," according to Jayson Stark of MLB pitchers more than a month into Spring Training still have not "been able to try out any of the new protective caps." 4Licensing Corp., in conjunction with New Era, has been developing "a new padded cap" for pitchers. But with Opening Day set for March 31, Cobb said that it is "too late ... for pitchers to switch to anything that new and different, unless the cap feels so similar to current caps that the difference is 'unnoticeable.'" Cobb: "If you mess with something that's going on that they're not normally used to, it's going to throw them off a little bit." 4Licensing believed that it needed to "make changes after getting complaints from pitchers who tried out the new caps during offseason workouts." 4Licensing interim CEO Bruce Foster said, "What was approved met the criteria. The breathe-ability needed to be tweaked. We are going to move to a mesh-type cap. And for the overall look, we are extending some of the side panels so it doesn't look flat" (, 3/22). In Cincinnati, John Erardi noted MLB approved a protective device for pitchers, but in "many cases, they haven't gotten to try it at all." Reds P Sam LeCure on Thursday said, "I'd have thought they'd have one down here in spring training, just for guys to try out and see how they feel and see if they're effective. I'm sure they're effective if they were approved, but why if they were approved are they not at our disposal to try out?" A source said that the Reds "did not receive any of the caps this spring" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/21).