The NFL is big business. It’s the No. 1 sport in America, it dominates the television landscape in the fall/winter and the average NFL franchise is worth $1.17 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.
Things couldn’t be better for the league right now, but Detroit Lions team president Tom Lewand told season ticket holders at a town hall meeting earlier this week that the league should be mindful of not getting too big for its own good.
“It is (nice to be involved with the NFL), but we have to be careful, too,” Lewand said during a question-and-answer session with fans. “It’s still about the game of football, and there’s an old saying that pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. I think we have to be mindful of the fact that, particularly in a place like our city, where the fans mean so much to us, we have to show them that respect back.”
The NFL expanded its Thursday night football package this year to feature more marquee matchups as CBS will air eight early-season games that will simulcast on the NFL Network.
The NFL Network will air six Thursday night games later in the year and two on Saturday, presumably late in the year when the college football season is over.
“I’m a big fan of this expanded Thursday night football package that’s coming on CBS this fall, but there’s also a limit to how much we can be out there, and we want to make sure that it’s a game that people can enjoy, and they can enjoy it in a way they want to enjoy it. We have to be smart about the way we let people interact with our game.” Lewand said.
Lewand also talked about NFL Now, which is a personalized video service providing fans with the NFL news, analysis and highlights they want across their Internet-connected devices set for launch this year.
“Basically the Lions on demand whenever you want them and news that’s customized to your cell phone or your tablet,” Lewand said. “But at the same time, we have to be mindful of the fact that what grew this game into where it is now was a real sense of partnership amongst the owners, particularly in the 1960s. That said everybody should have access to football.
“We’re still the only sport that is on broadcast television for every single game in a home market and a participating market, so even when a game’s on cable, we’re on broadcast TV in those two participating markets. And we have to make sure that that access stays available to all the fans and that we stay true to the fundamentals of the game.
“We can’t get caught up in a marketing blitz at the expense of those fundamentals. So tradition balanced with technology, I think, is the way to go as we grow this game.”