ENGAGE- NFL Finds New Fans in Foreign Lands



Appetite for American Football in the UK has grown dramatically over the last decade. Keen to serve up more content for existing fans, and attract new ones, the NFL launched a new match highlights and commentary programme called ‘The NFL Show’ on the BBC. CrowdEmotion was enlisted to help NFL optimise content iteratively -- future episodes can be rapidly improved on based testing episode 1.

The Challenge:

First, the show needed to appeal to ‘casual’ fans and create new ones, whilst avoiding being perceived as ‘dumbed down’ by the NFL’s avid fans. Second, The BBC and NFL wanted the show to become instantly iconic, rather than run the entire season and then improve upon it for the following season.The NFL therefore took the proactive approach of optimising the format within the first three episodes. Third, the NFL wanted to build fan engagement throughout the season.

Key Objectives:

Speed: With only three episodes, the NFL required rapid delivery of immediate insights after each episode so that editorial changes could be implemented for the following week.

Fan Development: Going beyond TV ratings, the NFL wanted to understand viewer engagement in the show and its impact on people’s interest in American Football within the UK.  

Drive Interaction with the NFL’s Other Touch Points: This would highlight how best to complement the new show to build fan engagement with the sport through the rest of the season.

Our Approach:

Hall & Partners collaborated with CrowdEmotion, global leaders in using facial coding to understand emotional response, to run a 400 person survey with a methodology rarely used on long-form TV: a facial-coding module that reveals the show’s emotional impact.

The Results:

Hall & Partners, in partnership with CrowdEmotion, revealed the programme’s different hooks and drivers. Three main results were derived from this study:

  1. After the reformatting after episode one, The NFL Show became more engaging and compelling to new, casual, and avid fans. Retention of the programming was really strong, with The NFL Show holding the audience’s attention better than typical programming. Additionally, The NFL Show maintained a prime-time slot for the majority of the season: Saturday, between 20:00-00:00.

  2. Playback requests increased after the re-formatting of the first episode.

  3. The NFL Show had a good public appreciation rating. The NFL Show had therefore successfully created more American Football fans with quality and compelling content that was reaching young and diverse audiences more effectively than the average BBC programme.

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