NEW YORK - (From staff report and official news release) - If first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Plans were recently announced for another version of the long sought-after code to crack the perfect complement to the NFL. With a chance to mine the cord-cutting trends of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or Twitter, sports executives announced the Spring League of American Football (SLAF), to begin play as early as the spring of 2018. The group is led by longtime broadcast media executives Michael and Rex Lardner, and longtime Madison Square Garden Chief Financial officer Robert Pollichino. The structure of the league will have regional teams aligned by hometowns and where they attended college and high school playing against other regional teams.
The announcement for SLA Football comes after the group commissioned a research study by BETA Research Corporation which validated the high level of interest that fans have in the concept of this league, especially at a time of year when live collegiate and professional games are not available. Research showed a host of compelling statistics, such as: 83% of men who watch television sports (18 -34) would make every effort to watch, or be more likely to watch SLA Football games. As well as: 20% of those who do not stream programming through a service like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu would be very likely to subscribe to a streaming service if it was the only way to view a professional spring football game. (BETA Research Corporation, 2016).
“Not only do the numbers make sense for the fans, the financial model shows it is a solid investment for the individual team-owners as well as the advertisers and league members,” Pollichino added. “Financially it works –yes. But for the fans it works as well. College players develop a strong following at their respective universities. We are capitalizing on that fan loyalty, by keeping players in the same region where they played college ball.”
“We all know that content is king, and the creation of a compelling football product in the time of year when the NFL is not playing and the fans are looking for even more live action is more real than ever before, according to the survey we have assembled,” Michael Lardner said. “We have taken all the steps to find the right balance financially and content wise and are now ready to present the fully baked plan to a business audience that has been clamoring for such an opportunity.”
The SLAF will have 10 teams and a 10-game schedule, not including playoffs, and will pair players from the Texas/Southwest Region against players from the Florida/Southeast Region along with other US geographic areas. SLAF players can try-out for the league when their college eligibility expires and must play in the team territory located nearest to their college. The season will run from April through July and will utilize a combination of NFL and NCAA football rules. The executive team is currently in negotiations with additional ownership groups and media partners, and additional announcements are expected in late 2016 and early in 2017.