March 16 2011 12:30PM
The average NFL team is worth a billion dollars and every single team is profitable. The Superbowl is regularly the most watched TV show of the year - if not the history of television. So of course they are going on strike and are running the risk of having to lose part or potentially all of a season of football.
If the NFL goes on strike, this represents an incredible opportunity for the NHL to grow its sport among the millions of NFL fans - pictured above - who will be seated in front of their 72" flat screen TVs, snacks in hand with nothing to watch. As one of the only games in town, the NHL could flex its sudden muscle in many US markets and bltiz their way into the hearts and minds of American sports fans.
If we ran the NHL we would be heading over to Spike TV's offices and trying to pay our way onto the airwaves with some sort of NHL reality based TV show. Same with other national channels like ESPN or even local TV channels operating in different NFL markets in the US.
They would certainly be interested in free programming given the state of the economy in the US. Give it away or pay to get it on air - just get it on the TV by any means necessary.
We would also be cracking open the war chest used to currently subsidize the Southern US teams and embarking on the largest US promotional blitz in the history of the league. Billboards, TV and radio ads, skywriting planes high over the City. Whatever it takes to get people interested in NHL hockey in the absence of NFL football.
We would bill the sport as violent and would show footage of league heavy weights going toe to toe in super slow motion with shedding guitar riffs and booming bass played in the background. There is going to be an unprecedented opportunity amongst a Nation of couch potatoes down South who will be looking for someone to follow on the telematrix. Why not the best sport on Earth?
ESPN would be an excellent place to start. Analysts have taken note that ESPN “is probably the least affected financially, despite its reliance on sports.” That’s partially because fans will tune in there to see whatever has taken the place of the NFL, and ESPN wouldn’t have to pay big money for game rights – or perhaps pay the fees but get them back later."
"Whatever has taken the place of the NFL" has to be the NHL. By our count 17 separate NFL markets also have NHL squads. Some of these markets - Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Arizona particularly - are in dire need of growing the fan base. Having the pills to step up and market the game heavily in the next year could be the difference between life and death for some of these teams.
By the graces of the Gods of Sports and Network TV, the NHL has been handed a golden opportunity in the US. Let's hope they capitalize on it.