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Volume 23 No. 14
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Media approach will keep younger audiences in mind with shorter games

Shorter games. Fewer commercial breaks. Separate productions for TV and digital.

When Vince McMahon says he wants to “reimagine” football, he’s doing it with millennial consumers in mind.

While he was short with specifics on where fans can see XFL games in 2020, McMahon stressed that they would be tailored for younger audiences — that means they will be shorter than NFL games with fewer commercials. The more continuous action translates better to digital and mobile platforms.

“That’s one thing we want to do — move the game along and not have someone sit through a lot of commercials,” McMahon said. “The way we’re set up, we don’t have to have all that in order to succeed.”

McMahon said it’s still way too early to come up with a media strategy for the league. He just announced the new XFL on Jan. 25 and still hasn’t identified the cities where his teams would play.

But McMahon did talk in general terms about the need to cut both older-skewing TV deals and younger-skewing digital deals. He stressed that the content produced for both must be completely different. That may sound like an obvious point, but digital offerings frequently consist of putting a linear TV feed onto digital.

“There’s an older audience that would just like to have their football,” McMahon said. “They don’t need a second device to watch what’s going on during the game. There are other people who want more access and to see what everyone else is saying. There are so many different ways to present this in a better way.”

Soon after he announced the XFL in 2000, NBC stepped up with a $50 million investment, guaranteeing broadcast and cable television coverage. Media companies did not stream games at the time.

McMahon said he is not interested in bringing on investors for this version, which means he would have to cut conventional rights deals with television and digital companies.