Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Female Perspective: Vol 1

by: Strategerie

Women are the fastest-growing fan base in the NFL.
Why doesn’t it feel like it?

Hello, my name is Strategerie, and I love football. I memorize each Sunday’s football schedule from August till February each year. I drag – ooops, persuade – my husband to join me for the game on Sundays, Monday nights, Thursdays and Saturdays. I talk to my girlfriends about passing percentages, the injury report, and game strategy. I’d buy a Seahawks jersey, but I’m going to have to buy several, and change them at least every quarter. (I loves me some defense, baby.) Considering the fact I know many, many women who match or exceed my adoration for all things football-related, the NFL has a golden opportunity right under their noses right now, and they’re not capitalizing on it.

To Continue on....

The fan base of professional football has grown exponentially through the years, but the fastest-growing segment is women. Advertising executives were musing in the New York Times as far back as 1999 that female NFL fans represented a significant amount of income for the league. Those women also make up a demographic advertisers everywhere court – 25 to 49-year-olds. There are 45 million female fans, fifteen million of which are described as “avid”.

The women who make up this demographic are not only buying game tickets, they’re buying merchandise, and it’s not just for the guys in the house. They want jerseys and beads and jackets and neon green gloves (well, if they live in Seattle, they do!). They’re off to the grocery store for food and beverages to serve at tailgating parties or at home, if they didn’t get tickets this time around. They’re creating the entire experience for everyone who lives in their household, and it’s generating big sales for numerous industries. News flash to the NFL: We’re typically the ones spending the cash in our household, which makes us a fairly powerful group.

At the same time, ladies, I’m sure you’ve noticed a couple of things. We’re seeking out the NFL on our own, but the experience still isn’t especially user-friendly to women. The overwhelming commercial time on NFL games is still bought by beer companies and ED drugs, for example. Some commercials are getting a bit more female-friendly (Peyton Manning’s “pep talk” commercials for MasterCard, Brett Favre for Wrangler jeans, the hilarious “girlfriends watching the game” Reebok commercials, for instance,) but there needs to be some effort to attract advertisers a bit more compelling to women.

Another slightly frustrating issue: Game announcers. It is hard for me to believe that a woman who had more than a passing acquaintance with the game would not be able to announce a football game with as much authority and professionalism as a man. A Super Bowl ring does not confer announcing brilliance. Relegating the women to sideline reporting, “weather reports” and the cheerleading squad lets us know you don’t believe we actually understand the game. When I’m listening to a former player tell the same story of the glories of his playing years for the second time in a broadcast (and he’s completely ignoring the action on the field,) I’m wondering why you think we’re just not as qualified to comment.

How many dollars is the NFL leaving on the table yearly by not courting their female fans? Here’s an example: If every female NFL fan spent $1 a year, it’s generating an additional forty-five million dollars. If every female fan spent just the price of a jersey on food, merchandise, or one game ticket each season, that’s over three hundred million additional dollars. We spent an estimated $100 on food and drinks just for the Super Bowl broadcast this year, for example. When will the NFL take a much more active role to increase the female fan base?

Speaking of that fan base, I did a little looking around at Where is the content for female fans? Also, I’d love those in charge of the NFL’s website to explain to me why they’re not featuring Jason Taylor’s current participation on “Dancing with the Stars” on their front page. “Dancing with the Stars” is the second-most popular television show in the United States, and they’re featuring a NFL player who’s not getting arrested or involved in a domestic disturbance. This should be front and center, because it’s a public relations bonanza. Wouldn’t this be an amazing tie-in with, the league’s effort to encourage physical fitness? He’s also showing a whole new group of women that maybe, just maybe, there might be more like Mr. Taylor on football fields all over America. C’mon, guys. I’ll write an essay about content I’d like to see on at a later date, but right now, you’re dropping the freaking ball on this one.

Guys, we’ve been dating for awhile. We need to talk, and you need to listen.

When Strategerie isn’t watching football, thinking about football, or talking about her beloved Seahawks, she’s a romance author. She also has her own blog, The Little Pink Clubhouse.