Roger Goodell admits to problems with NFL's live product
Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 23, 2012
NFL television ratings and ad revenue are the envy of the sports world. But many teams have struggled at the gate.
One big reason? Football is a hell of a lot more convenient to watch at home, thanks to everything from TiVo to instant replays to NFL Red Zone to your own food, beer and bathroom.
The NFL knows it has a problem with the live product, too. In fact, in Tuesdayís spring meeting press conference, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the NFL is looking to bring wi-fi into stadiums.
ďWe have made the point repeatedly that the experience at home is outstanding and we have to compete with that in some fashion by making sure we create the same kind of environment in our stadiums and use the same kind of technology,Ē said Goodell.
Here is the transcript of Goodellís press conference, provided by the NFL:
We had a very productive day. We talked a lot about and took a lot of action towards our continuing commitment to the game. We spent most of the morning on player health and safety and player engagement.
We had a report from our medical committee and medical advisors, and Dr. Satcher was here. Troy Vincent took the lead on player engagement. He talked a lot about the programs we have in place to help our active players and also our retired players with the transition out of the game of football.
We spent a fair amount of time this morning on the Competition Committee and some rules we had to follow up on from March and some issues that still needed to be addressed that were tabled at the March meetings. The rest of the morning and the afternoon focused primarily on fan initiatives -- what we can do to continue to grow the game and make the game better for our fans.
A lot of that was stadium related. We updated our membership on stadium developments including two new waivers with respect to projects in Green Bay and Pittsburgh and also had updates on San Francisco and Minnesota.
The stadium experience:
Then we spent some time on Wi-Fi.We believe that itís important for us to bring technology into the stadiums. We have made the point repeatedly that the experience at home is outstanding and we have to compete with that in some fashion by making sure we create the same kind of environment in our stadiums and use the same kind of technology. We also talked about the expansion of the game internationally. There was a discussion about the Buffalo-Toronto series and how that will continue for the future and will be bigger and better than it was in the past, and also our International Series, particularly in London.
On Pro Bowl and New Orleans:
We did have a lengthy discussion about the Pro Bowl, not specifically about a site. The discussion was about the quality of the Pro Bowl, including the commitments we have with our network partners; where we could play the game and about all of our discussions with the Players Association, how to make the game better. Weíve had numerous discussions over several months about what we can do to make the game more competitive. Iíve said it repeatedly, particularly since the last game that we have to improve the quality of that game. If we canít improve it and canít make it more competitive, then we shouldnít play.
Is the Pro Bowl going to exist for next year?
We had a full discussion about that. I would like to have another discussion with De[Maurice Smith] and the players to give them the feedback we got today on what aspects of the game we should address. But I hope to be making a decision pretty quickly after that conversation with De.
On changes to Atlanta stadium plan:
We didnít get an update on that today because no action was required. Iíve had some informal conversations with both Arthur [Blank] and Rich [McKay]. I think itís like any of our stadium projects. Thereís a process of working through that, finding a solution that works in the community that will also work for the club, of course. I think those discussions seem to be going along in a way where thereís good give and take.
If Atlanta builds a retractable roof, will it get a Super Bowl?
This is an issue that is always raised and this came up in Minnesota, where theyíre building a closed roof stadium it appears, and they have the same interests. The reality of what is happening is itís becoming more and more competitive to host the Super Bowl. But these stadiums are our stage and they are one of the key components in hosting a Super Bowl along with having the infrastructure. Certainly if it gets done, we will encourage them to apply.
On the league participating in the Atlanta stadium through the G4 fund:
Weíre a little early in that, but, of course, from what weíve seen so far we would expect so. Thatís why we created the G-4 program, so we can participate.
On response to union saying passing of thigh pads and knee pads should have been collectively bargained:
We have raised mandatory pads for at least three years now. We have discussed it with the union as recently as this Spring. And itís a decision that we are not implementing for this season in part because we want to work with the players, we want to work with the Players Association. We believe the technology has improved, and, in fact, the pads are far better than they were even a decade ago. Theyíre more protective. They allow better performance. We also think itís important. Every other level of football requires these pads and the NFL doesnít. We think thatís part of sending the right signal to other levels of football.
If there is a Pro Bowl after this coming season, would New Orleans be the likely site?
I wouldnít say that. I would say New Orleans and Honolulu are the two sites.
On if Jonathan Vilma suit was discussed:
I donít think it was discussed. I think they reported that it existed. I donít think there was any discussion.
Any comment on the Vilma suit?
On negotiating with the union:
The reality is that is part of operating in a pretty complex world. You have to be open about the initiatives you want to undertake. You donít expect all parties to agree at any point in time, but you have to drive toward solutions. At some point, you have to make some decisions about what is best for the game. Pads are a great example of it. Three years of discussion. The technology has advanced. In fact, the CEO of Nike recently told me when they introduced the new uniforms that NBA players were wearing more pads from the hips down than NFL players. There is something wrong with that. We need to put that protection in. You can discuss all you want; but at some point, you have to reach a conclusion.
On when the CEO of Nike told him about NBA players wearing more leg pads:
On the complex nature of negotiating with the union extending to other issues, not just additional padding:
Yes. You donít expect to agree on everything. That is part of the dialogue and part of finding solutions. We have had to do that over the last year as well. The reality is you have to put issues on the table and you have to drive toward solutions that are good for the game, good for the players, good for our fans, good for the growth and are going to maintain the integrity of the game.
On how he would describe the working relationship right now with the NFLPA:
I donít characterize things very often. We continue to address the issues. We donít always agree; but we seek resolutions on those. Sometimes we will reach a consensus, and sometimes we wonít. If that is the outcome, that is the outcome.
On WiFi fan initiative:
The initiative is to get WiFi in all of our stadiums both for mobile devices including telephony. We want to make sure fans when they come into our stadiums donít have to shut down Ė they can bring their devices. We want them to have access to the same amount of information, have access to our RedZone channel, have access to highlights, and be able to engage in social media including Fantasy Football. When you come to our stadiums, we want to make it a great experience. That is what it is about.
On how much that would cost and how expansive that would be:
That is the trick. We want to put it in all 31 stadiums. We want to make sure the same service is provided and the same technology is there for the fans. The costs vary from the different proposals we have. It is part of the reason we are looking for new technology partners that can help us address what I consider pretty complex problems.
On if it is realistic to expect it to be in for 2012:
No. It is possible we could get a stadium or two stadiums in, but it is a pretty big undertaking.
On if he would want them all to launch at the same time:
Not necessarily. We have talked about a pilot. We have talked about New Orleans Ė we are in New Orleans this year having the Super Bowl there. That might be a good start. But there are several teams that are very aggressive in this area that have some very good technology available in their stadiums. We are learning from that, and our fans are engaging with it, which is the best news for us.