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The sluggish pace of American football has not always been an asset, but Sky Sports executive Barney Francis thinks it could be key to the game’s success with emerging youth.
Francis’ sons, ages eight and 11, seem to be in natural sync with the American game’s short bursts of activity, which are interspersed with endless pauses, time-outs and referee decisions. They are more drawn to the game than soccer, which is a mainstay in Britain.
“They concentrate for five seconds of time and then they drift,” said Francis, managing director of Sky Sports.
The appeal of bite-sized content to an increasingly smartphone-dominated society was a key takeaway from proceedings at the Leaders group’s Sports Business Summit in New York.
Participants, including teams, agents and advertisers, are still looking for the secret to keep the big money flowing in pro sports in an era of media flux.
They rued declining attendance at many live sporting events and the effects of the decline of traditional media business models.
Youth “are using devices more than ever before. Their spare time is more pressurised than ever,” Francis told AFP on the sidelines of the event.
“They want new things all the time.”
Digital revenues lag
CBS Sports has enjoyed success with other youth-culture mainstays, such as Twitter and Facebook feeds prepped in tandem with sporting events, or short behind-the-scenes segments on rising millennial golfers like Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus.
“Social media is a big opportunity with the millennials,” he said.
However, McManus described a tricky calculation with the bulk of the company’s advertising revenue still coming from traditional broadcast and cable.
“The fact of the matter is the NFL gets the lion’s share of its revenue from broadcast television and from basic cable television,” McManus said.