Indy Visit

Monday, February 6, 2012

As you can see by the dearth of blog entries here, I've had some personal and professional issues that impacted the 'free' time I was anticipating last month.  However, one of the things I was planning on doing did happen last Friday when I paid a visit to Indianapolis to take in the sights and sounds of the Super Bowl's pre-game festivities.  Attending the NFL Experience and strolling through the city's Super Bowl Village were my first and, with the infrequency of games in northern US cities, probably last opportunities to do that in my lifetime.  It was expensive ($20 for parking, another $20 for admission to the convention center, an ATM demanding an $8 service charge to withdraw money) and crowded (an estimated 1.1 million visitors for the 10-day affair) but I feel that it was worth my time and effort to go.

My attention was drawn, naturally, to the media aspect of the events.  Initial ratings for last night's telecast of the football game nearly matched the previous year's record television audience of nearly 111 million viewers and the game was viewed in over 180 countries and in over 30 different languages.  The sporting world fixates on this one game every year and that was evident with the coverage seen on ESPN and the league's NFL Network outlet.  The former occupied an entire square just north of Lucas Oil Stadium with several temporary television sets while the latter had a fixed studio inside the NFL Experience area.  Since NBC was the host network for the US broadcast, many of their on-air personalities were in attendance and shows like 'Today' were conducted in and around the Super Bowl venues.  This promotional commercial shows the level of interest the network places in getting this event every three years:

One cannot forget that the NFL is more than just a sporting league.  In fact, the business of football in the US is an economic juggernaut, employing over 110,000 people throughout its 32 franchises and adding over $5 billion to those city's bottom lines. In the Forbes clip below, the analysts highlight how the game is a 'cash cow' for the TV networks:

This year marked the first time that the Super Bowl was streamed online and that didn't go over too well in some media circles.  The American Television Alliance, a group comprised of US cable, satellite and internet providers, published an advertisement (see graphic below) in the sports section of Sunday's New York Times and in papers in both Super Bowl teams' home markets (as well as in Washington, DC) on Friday decrying this 'freebie' when the broadcast networks are asking for record fees to re-broadcast their programming over the alliance member's outlets.  The ad is in reference to pending legislation before Congress to revamp or eliminate current FCC rules pertaining to the relationship between the over-the-air broadcasters and the growing number of alternate outlets for their content.  With current trending indicating viewers moving away from television in favor of other media-capable devices for their entertainment, this issue may only be in the 'first quarter' of a long legal game for a prize much more valuable than a sterling silver trophy.

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