BY JOE FAVORITO
ON N.J. SPORTS MARKETING
As we move toward the NFL playoffs and baseball's "Hot Stove" kicks in, it is interesting to note that the two centers for the "artistic taste" of those sports call the Garden State home.
On the football side, even though the NFL Network is housed in California, the dramatic feel and weekly film highlights packages continue to come out of legendary NFL Films in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. President Steve Sabol continues to create the dramatic effect each and every week with film, creating the right template from every game, now more in real time than ever before, that is passed on to millions of fans. The voices, the music, the sounds and the access continue to bring football closer through the use of all the state-of-the-art editing facilities and direction the NFL Film crews have at their fingertips.
There are few that have ever created a bigger sense of theater than NFL Films, and those efforts have led to a host of other non-NFL related projects over the years, both in other sports like tennis, and in entertainment. While it is true that the daily face of the sport is still played out on their own network and through their TV partners like Showtime and ESPN and the networks, the face is still built through the drama created at NFL Films.
On the baseball side, perhaps the greatest and most successful launch of a sports-specific network happened just over a year ago in Secaucus ... when the MLB Network came to life in the studios once built and then left by MSNBC. Under the leadership of former CBS head Tony Petitti, the MLB Network has given fans a destination to tune to...in over 50 million homes...for fresh and repackaged content and live shows and games every night of the past year. Unlike the NFL's east/west broadcast platform, the MLB Network has everything housed in one mega-New Jersey facility, from archival footage and classic interviews to live studios. The MLB Network also has the ability to draw from the vast amount of media, stories and key players in the sport who live in and around the New York area for reaction and comment on the news of the day and have them in studio, an option which other sports-specific networks not housed in New York do not have the ready ability to do.
Also unlike other sports, the news of baseball is 24/7, and with the growing global interest in the game (and the fact that there are live games going on in places like the Caribbean while MLB is off) gives the MLB Network lots of fodder in terms of new and noteworthy programming for the ardent baseball fan. So can MLB Network also draw the casual baseball fan as well? The addition of two iconic broadcasting names in Peter Gammons and Bob Costas certainly went a long way this past fall to address that issue, and will help make MLB Network even more viable as a brand into the future.
Yes, two of the three local football teams...the Jets and the Eagles...will move on to the playoffs this weekend, and baseball's off-season vibe does continue with the Yanks, Phils and Mets locally. However for the national enthusiast, regardless of the outcome, both baseball and football will continue to have a little bit of a Jersey flavor, even when the locals are not on the diamond or the gridiron. All anyone has to do is tune in and enjoy.
Joe Favorito has over 23 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. Visit him at JoeFavorito.com.
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