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Everything posted by whatmichaelsays

  1. This sort of thing isn't supposed to be easy. It might be hard to do, but that is the cost of doing business now because there is just that much more competing for people's leisure dollar. I could run through a list of places I could take my son to amuse him on any given Sunday and on most of those, I've got a good idea of what we can expect and how much he'll enjoy it. If you're basing the "sell" of RL on whether or not the team will be successful, or whether or not the game will be good, it's a lot harder for me to judge whether he'll enjoy the day, or whether he'll be bored and irritable. That's going to factor into a person's decision and that's why it's important that whatever the result, whatever the quality of the game, the clubs ensure that people have an enjoyable experience. You can say that it's hard and make excuses, but people expect a lot from their £20 ticket and if you aren't delivering on those expectations, they either aren't going to come or they aren't going to come back. They'll spend their money elsewhere, go to places where they know that they're going to enjoy themselves, and that "we can't afford to do that" problem will just get even worse.
  2. You're confusing marketing with advertising. People in Whitehaven might be aware of Whitehaven's rugby team, but are they aware of what they offer, what the matchday experience is like and how they're adapting that offer to cater to a broader range of people? You can't just hook your entire approach on a good team and a good match on the field. You have to create an event that, no matter what the result, people go away feeling that they've had a good time.
  3. I agree that you can't necessarily "football can do it, so can we" and I equally agree that weeknights pose a challenge, but how many times - and in how many contexts - do we say that "RL needs to broaden beyond the same people"? This is another one of those times and contexts. If we're going to take the broadcaster cash that comes with strings that we play on weeknights, then the sport has options - either accept that the crowds will be lower and quit complaining about it, or find ways to make it work. I don't think there is any town in RL land where there aren't people looking for some sort of entertainment on a Thursday night - the question is whether RL clubs are finding ways to offer what those people want.
  4. The counter to that is that clubs have been playing on Thursdays for long enough now to have been able to work out how to reach those audiences that are looking for something to do on a weeknight, in the same way that the cinema industry turned Wednesday nights form being it's worst-performing day of the week to it's second most-successful. There are people out there who are looking for some sort of amusement on weeknights - people without kids to get up for school in the morning, the people who don't see a 10:00pm finish as a 'late night' on a school night, people who'd otherwise be finding something else to do who could be tempted into an RL fix. In understand that Thursday nights aren't great for fans that travel, but weeknights are common in sports with much longer travel distances than RL. The sport has had them for long enough now for it to become a much weaker excuse than it once was.
  5. Honestly, who the clubs recruit is up to them. No new signing or hire is risk-free - if the extent of a club's due diligence is "watching a few clips online", then that's their issue. Homesickness is a thing. Mental health is a thing. Most of us think we won't be affected by these, but it happens. There are reasons for having a quota system (supporting local talent, supporting the England team, etc) and there are perfectly good reasons to not have one (allow clubs to recruit the best talent that they can afford irrespective of a player's origin). But "some might not be very good and get homesick" is not a reason to have a tighter quota.
  6. That's my thoughts. The remarks are somewhat "on brand" for him, although he isn't the only candidate.
  7. Dacia? Would a division of Renault be as interested in SL were it not for the presence in two of one of its brand's biggest markets?
  8. My understanding is that Leeds have done both 'in and out on the day' and one night stopover trips. From my recollection, Leeds have preferred to do the former as they prefer to not have the players kicking their heals and getting cabin fever in hotels. They brand it as a corporate trip, rather than a supporter trip because at that price point, they're essentially looking for the sponsors who are travelling with them to cover both their cost and the cost of the players and staff. I don't know what it costs to charter a 737-type aircraft these days but assuming you have 170 seats, 30-40 of which are probably taken by players and club staff, then you've still got a lot of seats to sell and cover that cost.
  9. And also non-corporate. Are you telling me that 11 clubs that aren't Leeds can't find a way to make a game against Toulouse one that has some appeal? Leeds also aren't the only club with corporate partners.
  10. What specifically are you looking for here? Hetherington himself seems excited at the prospect of filling two chartered planes to France instead of one (Leeds charge around £600 for their France "corporate" trip). You can't do that for a coach ride to Wigan - that's monetising Toulouse in the league. You can partner with businesses that have interests in both the UK and France and sell corporate hospitality in that context. That's monetising Toulouse in the league. You can sell that international aspect to potential new supporters, theme those fixtures and use that empty away end as a blank canvas for tactical promotions. That's monetising Toulouse in the league.
  11. And that's, like I said, is the real issue. How many RL fans will be willing to part with £10 a month to watch Championship RL, filmed with lower production values, on an app? And how many will be forgiving of the lack of basic infrastructure like customer service (a cost that surprisingly few SaaS businesses consider) if a stream does fail? The football league found during the pandemic that streaming was not as lucrative as many perhaps believe it is - and I'd suggest that their supporters are much more dedicated than your average RL fan.
  12. And it's that "x" that's the question, because you're taking on a large infrastructure cost base that you need to pay back, and then some. Our League was great as a stop-gap. It did something that it wasn't really designed to do. But if you want to turn this into a full-time content streaming operation, you've got to do a lot more. Even at £5-8 a month, it's in Disney+ and Netflix territory and I would suggest that at that price point, you need to offer a lot more than weekly streams of Championship and League One games with single-camera views. People will expect more content, they'll expect on-demand content, they will expect higher production values, they will expect a reliable stream and they will expect customer service - all things that people would perhaps be more forgiving of during the pandemic. Premier Sports offer all of those elements so actually, it perhaps isn't necessarily a bad thing to let them take the risk on this one. If enough people subscribe, you can make the argument that the RFL should bring the rights in house in future. But at the moment, expecting to be able to charge £5-£10 a month for Our League in its current guise is the sort of "that'll do-ism" that is harming the sport.
  13. It might be the norm, but what's not yet really established is how many people are willing to subscribe to at any one time and therefore, in turn, how profitable any new service can be. The real selling point of Netflix and Amazon Prime was about "cutting the cord" from your cable or satellite contract for all of this on demand content, but that selling point is undermined as that content is now getting fragmented with every new entrant in the market. We now have Disney+, Discovery+ NOWTV, HBO Max, DAZN, hulu, Britbox, Spotify and the various individual sports platforms that you can sign up for (NFL Gamepass and equivalents) - on top of Sky or Virgin Media - all asking for their £7.99 a month. I'm with @gingerjon - I've already got plenty of paid-for content in my life and I don't really see myself taking on much more - unless it was really unmissable, must-watch content. I would think/hope that the RFL have used their experience of OurLeague in the early part of this season to get a good indication of the appetite for streamed RL content. I don't think it's the answer.
  14. The RFL had around half of the season where it was producing and charging for access to RL content. If it has decided not to continue with that and pursue a separate TV deal, I'd suggest there is something in that. I'm not convinced that streaming is the panacea that many people think it is - and I include the likes of DAZN and Amazon in that. I don't think there is a lot of appetite from the general public to have a large number of different streaming accounts.
  15. I agree, and given the way in which Rob has approached his diagnosis, I'm not entirely sure he'd want to be eulogized that way.
  16. I'm with you on this one. Although I appreciate that perspective is important here, as I'm also a fan of one of the bigger clubs, but if those clubs are investing more heavily in playing and training facilities, investing more heavily in pastoral support, investing in providing non-rugby education, investing in coaching and giving their young talent more opportunities both in rugby and in life, then the problem is not "the big clubs". The sport should be treating its talent as well as it can be and if certain clubs are leading the way on that front, then young players (and their parents) will rightly factor that into their decision. Would I want to play for Leeds, where I can get fit in a state of the art gym, practice on a 4G playing surface, have good prospects of a shot in the first team and have the offer of a part-time degree from the local university, or do I want to go to Wakefield, train in an unheated converted warehouse, practice on dog **** park, have a coach that's too nervous to give me a chance in a relegation battle and play for a chairman that criticises his players in the press for not taking a big enough pay cut? The NHS analogy is a misdirection for me. That's an organisation that exists for societal good. Rugby League is a competitive sport where businesses compete with each other in order to succeed - and competing for talent is a significant part of that process.
  17. Much of that, like the TV rights, is probably down to how competitive the bidding process is for the event. We've heard suggestions in the past of various cities across the UK and even Europe fighting for the event - was or is that the case? Have those 'auctions' become less competitive due to austerity? Or does the sport pick a venue that feels easy and convenient? There's going to be a limit as to how much you do get local councils to stump up - they see a fraction of that £15m as the bulk goes to local bars, restaurants and hoteliers so there is actually some credit due in respect of getting local government support for an event like this. But this does all come back to how the sport makes itself something that people want to be associated with.
  18. I think the point is that the Grand Final, Magic and the CC Final (and the equivalent women's events for that matter) don't exist in a vacuum, and they shouldn't really be treated as such. Yes, we can throw the kitchen sink at Magic Weekend, get a crowd, but then what? How do we engage those people we attract for the other 363 days of the year? And that's the bit where RL really struggles, and the bit that isn't addressed by having teams dedicated to selling just three products a year. RL has shown that it can get crowds to its big events. We've sold out Grand Finals, sold out CC finals, we have the record crowd for the WC final in this country and we've got respectable Magic crowds for much of the event's existence. The difficult bit has been keeping those people - retaining the crowds that we do have, as they age, move around for family, work and study, find other interests, otherwise become disengaged or, sad to say, die off, as well as replacing those people with new, longer-term spectators and supporters that have a much greater lifetime value. It's all well and good rocking up to Newcastle every summer, bringing the circus to town, selling out the Big Top and then heading back home, but how do those people in Newcastle "buy" elite RL for the rest of the year? The truth is, it's very difficult for them to do that and that's what the game hasn't solved. That's the real challenge and it's why having a well-resourced team with a broad focus, and treating those key events as individual campaigns, gives you a much greater return on investment than having separate teams with one sole focus to sell out big events.
  19. I don't agree that you need to narrow their remit to just those three events. That's a short-term, tactical focus. That sort of "performance marketing" has a place, but it is much less effective if you don't have a wider, longer term remit. Decades of research shows that businesses that invest in long term brand and audience building make more money in the long term than those that focus on short term sales.. The NFL was televised in the UK for 20 years before they brought a regular season game to London - they built the audience over a generation and that makes it much easier to sell (and sell at a premium). Whoever is marketing RL needs to do both, but they need to be empowered and resourced to do it. You're probably more familiar with the RFL / SLE hierarchy than I am, but does the Chief Marketing Officer (or equivalent) sit on the board? If not, how can anything be achieved when we know that the 12 SL chairman that sit around that table rarely agree on the big decisions?
  20. I don't disagree with that, but until we're talking about the only 'unsold' tickets being those from the respective club allocations, we're in a position where the sport isn't doing enough to position the Grand Final as a must-see event that people clamour to see, and where the sport is actually putting itself in a high risk position that unfashionable or far-flung teams make it's flagship events. I'm not even sure that the club allocations are that big (10-15k each?). The fact that the response from the RFL to this problem was to insist on a security bond from overseas teams, rather than to look at how it makes the CC Final more relevant and more in-demand, shows that the mindset to me is wrong. We can quite reasonably talk about how expensive it is to reinvent how the sport promotes its key events, but there is a significant cost to not doing it as well.
  21. It does. Both the RFL and SLE have a marketing team. The problem is that those teams are under-resourced and lacking the direction from a senior leadership team that either doesn't know, or can't agree, on who they actually want to attract to this sport, what those audiences want, and what it takes to deliver them. That's what the NFL did. It identified an audience that it wanted to attract, spent year after year trying to build relevance and salience with those audiences and, when it came to hosting events at Wembley, the audience was already there, knowing exactly who the teams were, who the superstars are and what the whole "NFL experience" was about, credit cards in hand. The NFL didn't just show up one day with a big advertising budget saying "look at us!" and that's why you need to be careful not to confuse marketing with advertising, because RL can't advertise it's way out of these problems. You might call this year's Grand Final an historic occasion, but that doesn't mean that it's relevant.
  22. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. The issue here is that RL's flagship events, one an event that RL argues is a "blue ribboned" event of such sporting and cultural importance that it merits being on the protected events list, and another the pinnacle of the league season and the peak of sporting drama, aren't seen as "must see" events by the wider public, or indeed the RL fanbase. That's not a failure of the Catalans Dragons, nor are the Catalans the cause of that. It's a failure of the game's leadership in how it establishes, builds, develops and promotes these key events and how it (including the 12 SL clubs) builds a core audience for them. Whilst most top sporting and entertainment events sell out in 15 minutes, RL is still trying desperately to sell tickets to our biggest events 15 minutes before kick-off.
  23. Correlation is not necessarily causation. If the only tickets that go unsold were the club allocation tickets, it's fair to make that case. But there are lots of reasons why the crowd is smaller than it should be - and that's before you get to "one of the teams is from France".
  24. It's dead easy to portray this as a "Catalans Dragons" problem, but it's a diversion from the real issue. The crux of the issue is that it should not be this easy to get a ticket to a Grand Final so close to the event, no matter who is playing. The sport can't just hope that Leeds and one of Wigan, St Helens or Warrington get there every year and let their ticket office staff do the heavy lifting. This is an event that is 23 years old, is the pinnacle of this country's elite league of what we like to call "the greatest game", and a one-off match where the entire season is on the line that is played on a weekend where there isn't actually that much elite sporting competition. Advance purchases should be much, much higher than they are. The sport has had long enough to establish this as a FOMO event. The same applies to the Challenge Cup Final. We still have people claiming that falling attendances are down to the lack of trips organised by pubs and working mens clubs - WMC's haven't been relevant for over 20 years, and we're still blaming that for the Challenge Cup Final's decline? Why aren't these events ones that people are clamouring to see?
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