Dinosaurs still walk the earth. The League Express letters page led with a ‘peach’ this week, with one reader bemoaning the impact that the recently announced SKY TV coverage would have on National League attendance. .
That was an announcement I confess I’d thought would be a universally welcomed as a bonus for the game.
Talk about missing the point. Talk about not seeing the big picture. No wonder all the other dinosaurs are extinct, with blinkers this big it must be hard to find a partner.
The point is missed on so many levels too:
- Firstly: the NL currently has NO sponsorship deal. Why? Because it receives almost zero national – and precious little regional – coverage.
Without a sponsor there is no money for the clubs. And without the oxygen of publicity the RFL have little to offer any potential sponsors.
Now, with Sky TV on board, the RFL at least have a credible bargaining chip with which to tempt backers.
It also ought to mean the value of local sponsorship increases too, as the TV games reach a wider audience enabling clubs to attract higher-profile backers with tailored marketing packages.
Whilst that doesn’t mean sponsors will beat a path to your door, it will make them more receptive to proposals that add value to their business.
- Secondly: Whilst attendance may be down at those games actually televised – and that remains to be seen – the increased exposure affords all clubs the opportunity to attract new fans and reawaken the hunger of people who may have drifted away.
Remember, businesses rarely make money on their promotional activities. The return on investment accrues from what happens after the promotion.
By exploiting the aroused interest well managed clubs will prosper.
- Thirdly: The reason Sky aren’t paying (again) to screen the games is because they already have. Sky’s current contract gives them rights to all RL games, not just Superleague – always has.
Up until now they’ve opted not to exercise those rights. But, perhaps because televised Netball hasn’t taken off, or maybe because Eurosport was sniffing round, they suddenly see the commercial benefits in showing NL RL and that has to be a good thing for the RL game.
For the record I’ve always argued that Super League should make a contribution to the NL coffers from the SKY monies. Now I believe the NL should again go to the Superleague clubs to ask for a share in that money because they too have a credible bargaining chip.
Realistically though, until the Sky contract is renegotiated the NL are unlikely to receive any significant direct funding.
However, for mine, the SL ought to make a contribution to a central fund for each game show on TV. That fund could then be shared equally amongst all NL clubs at the start of next season and then each season thereafter.
It may be a token gesture for now but the important thing is that progress is made and precedent set.
- Fourthly: The NL has some real stars and produces some terrific games.
I know because I go to watch the games.
Now we have a free 80 minute ad every week to sell our product. And for once the deal doesn’t’ involve any pseudo-reality-TV gimmickry making a spectacle of the game and its fans.
It truly is RL Raw.
- Fifthly: Remember the division one attendances? The ones before Superleague on Sky TV?
Dig ’em out and compare them to the current figures.
I think you’ll find TV hasn’t done us that bad.
Not only are there more people coming to the grounds. Just as importantly there are more people, nationwide, aware of and actively watching RL.
All of which makes the seeking out of sponsorship cash just that little bit easier.
Where dinosaurs see drawbacks visionaries see value-added opportunities. And make no mistake, this is a massive opportunity for the National League.
Let’s all grasp it, it may be our last.